Beautiful drawing of Orpheus from “Forlorn.” I picture this hanging in the castle somewhere. Art by: DimikDraws
Even though Caicos doesn’t like me- I think he’s cool looking enough to photograph.
By: Aaron B.
Written by Barry B. Longyear, this science fiction novella tells the story of an astronaut named Davidge, stranded on a planet with a humanoid alien named Jeriba, his species is known as dracs.
Humans and dracs have been at war for quite a while-each wanting to explore the galaxies and getting in each other’s way-but through this story Davidge and Jeriba must put aside their differences and try and survive the hostile environment.
The opening portion of the book, the two have a bit of a fist fight and reluctantly must accept each other, which seemed like a realistic interpretation of how things would go down. Much like how maybe in real world wars, two soldiers from different ethnic backgrounds might at first hate each other, then learn to get along and fight the enemy.
The middle portion, it is revealed that Jeriba is pregnant with a child (his species reproduces asexually if I remember correctly) At first Davidge doesn’t want to hear this, he just wants to focus on himself-but as the two species talk things over, Davidge begins to see things from the aliens’ point of view. Quite a hopeful section of the story, I only wish more people were this open minded to change and evaluating their opinions.
That’s maybe my favorite aspect to this story, Davidge had to change this lifelong racism-he had to stand up and face the fact he was indeed wrong about the dracs. Humans don’t seem to like to admit they’re wrong-often I feel when arguing, people like to yell and shout “I’m right, you’re wrong!” “My opinion is valid even though it holds no evidence!” If Jeriba and Davidge had gotten along like this to long, the two would have perished.
Jeriba dies and gives birth to a child, and Davidge was indeed going to kill it, but realized he couldn’t. This portion of the story I felt dragged a bit, but I understand why the author couldn’t just rush this section.
It did help in further cementing Davidge’s newfound thoughts.
The ending was quite good. Basically, humans and dracs end up getting on, and they form a society together-which I found quite cool. You had little spouts of hate between the two species, but very minor. I won’t ruin the very end or the little plot threads, but it ends up being extremely touching. So, in all, I loved the beginning and end, but the middle was ‘okay.’ The child subplot I was less interested in, but the way it tied together in the end I liked and therefore, I won’t remove too many points from the middle portion-if the author had rushed it, it wouldn’t have hit as hard.
I love stories of ‘creature sympathy’, and this sort of reminded me of one of my favorite sci-fi films ever, “District 9.” I wonder what a modern remake of this would look like? I haven’t seen the movie, and I don’t plan to. I sort of liked reading it and imagining the situations for myself, plus the alien design from what I gather from the trailer leaves a lot to be desired-a bit to cheesy.
I really did like this, I didn’t love it like I thought I would, but I liked it enough to want to read the other two in the series.
NOTE: Odin is a German Shepherd and Neil is his human companion. They’re both cops.
Odin ignored the pit in his stomach, the fear of being somewhere new. The new smells, the new voices. Seeing the dilapidated apartment complex.
A grey sky hovered over Neil Bachman and Odin as they briskly walk up concrete steps and burst there way through the building. They had a warrant, and they wasted no time going after the evils that lay inside.
The canine sniffed the rug, it smelt of beer, drugs and semen. Some not-so wholesome stuff went on in this place. How little the dog knew at this point. Yeah, he had practiced taking down criminals, but as his ripe young age he had never seen a real corpse or felt true fear coming from someone in danger.
With his gun drawn, Neil kicked through the wooden door to room number 4.
The room itself was shrouded in darkness apart from a flickering light in the living room.
“Come out with your hands up! You’re under arrest Mr. Pilkington.” Odin dare not whimper now, whatever was going on needed his partner’s full attention.
Trusting the dog 100%, Officer Bachman removed a cloth with a new human scent on it, pressed it to Odin’s nose and released the leash. “Go find him boy.” Neil said softly and watched his best friend go deeper into this place of filth and horror.
The room was all one floor, so that made searching a lot easier. The couch was ripped, a TV in the corner blared static.
Across from the couch was the kitchen, upon going in his paws clicked on the tiled floor. The dishes were stacked in the sink-and a rancid smell permeated the air. Something vile. A sharp smell of-what smelt like burning wood with a mixture of rotted steak-and Odin knew his meat smells well.
Neil ordered Odin back to his side, keeping his black handgun drawn, he could see what Odin couldn’t-the microwave.
Slipping on his latex glove, Bachman held his breath as he crept towards the busted kitchen appliance and swung the door open.
Sitting in the middle of the rotating wheel in the appliance was a mess of dark red guts and flesh-piled up in a tiny gory mess.
Bachman’s worst fear had come true, stepping back Odin also saw the mess of human remains inside, he nearly threw up. He wasn’t naïve enough to think it was rotten leftover food.
Clicking on his radio, the officer spoke as Odin surveyed the rest of the apartment.
“We found-Pilkington’s baby. D-dead. I have Odin on his scent now.” Bachman couldn’t contain the sick, rough feeling in his stomach-finding an open window in the kitchen he rushed to it and threw up his lunch in a thick, slimy mess.
Now, Odin really wanted to kill this man. He needed the order to do so though. So, he kept his wolf-like rage locked inside.
The sound of a shotgun blast interrupted Pilkington’s feeling of nausea, he was grazed by the little bullets that careened out of the large gun.
The balding, overweight man knelt outside in the back of the apartment building; the gun stuck out of a broken window and aimed into the kitchen. Pilkington thought his despicable crime would go unnoticed since he had shot the cop which was on his ass. How wrong he was.
As the perp leaned against the apartment building, his arms resting on the edge of the bottom of the window, his gun sticking far into the kitchen where Neil lied hurt and bleeding-he was to stupid to notice Odin standing directly behind him.
Leaning out the windowsill from the outside, Pilkington would have nowhere to run as Odin let out a soft growl staring at the man’s huge backside and leapt onto the man’s sweaty, flabby shoulders and bit his cheek.
Pilkington yelled in agony as the shotgun flew from his hands.
Odin didn’t let go of the piece of flesh between his sharp teeth.
Using what little strength he had-Neil stood up, his arm bleeding onto the floor as he aimed his gun. “Odin! Heel!” Like lightening, the dog ran towards the officer-Pilkington would be put away for a very long time.
The image of the roasted baby would permeate the dog’s brain for as long as he lived. Part of him wished he could have killed Pilkington-but that wasn’t the way of justice he supposed if he was to be the best K9 dog in the unit.
BOOK LINK: COMING SOON