Wednesday, February 24, 2010

“Thus Spake the Aliens,” a new novella written by H. G. Stratmann

Published in the January-February 2010 special double issue marking the 80th anniversary of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, “Thus Spake the Aliens,” a new novella written by physician and SF author H. G. Stratmann, is the fourth in his series starring a religious astronaut named Katerina Savitskaya, who is stranded on Mars with her fiancé, Martin Slayton. ("The Paradise Project," Analog, November 2007; "The Last Temptation of Katerina Savitskaya,” Analog, September 2008; "Wilderness Were Paradise Enow," Analog, December 2009). I haven’t read “Thus Spake the Aliens,” but here are the opening lines:

Earth was doomed.

Katerina Savitskaya, the woman responsible for her world's impending destruction, knelt alone and miserable on the metal floor of the sole dwelling on Mars. The filthy blue jumpsuit shrouding her shapely thirty-three-year-old figure like sackcloth reeked with sweat and fear. Tears stung her ashen cheeks as she prayed before the colorful religious icons attached to a closed locker door in the habitation module's science lab...

“Thus Spake the Aliens” has received several interesting reviews. Last November, Sam Tomaino of SFRevu concluded that “Stratmann fashions an exciting story, with a dynamite last line.”

Later, in December, Lois Tilton of the now-deceased Internet Review of Science Fiction wrote: “I had really hoped the previous episode was the last of this series. The stories have been just awful -- badly written, tedious, preachy -- and each one recapitulates the same awfulness all over again as if once weren't more than enough. In the unlikely event that any readers have been enjoying these, they will likely find this one more of the same.”

More recently, in early January, Carl Slaughter of Tangent concluded that “The last line is so intriguing, it almost makes you forget the pain of reading this amateurish, cumbersome, boring, excessively long story.”

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