royalty-free-writing-clipart-illustration-1146779I’m currently reading the Hugo nominations so I can vote. Here’s my second review.

Lou Antonelli’s story (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014) is about Earth-people at a base on a planet called Ymilas, and it’s narrated by the base chaplain, a young Methodist minister. Because of the planet’s strong magnetic field, it traps particles that show up as fantastic auroras. When one of the work crew named Joe dies, it becomes evident that it also traps ghosts. The young minister consults with the local alien religious leader and discusses the problem, finds that the spirits of the local dead are also trapped and that they must go on a pilgrimage to the north polar region where they can pass through a gate and dissipate into nothingness. The minister sets out with the religious leader on the pilgrimage and Joe, supported by the local Helpful Ancestors, passes on. When the next man dies, the minister knows they need to go on another pilgrimage.

I rather liked the premise here. The story is well-written, though not very complex, dramatic or exciting–a bit short on conflict. The setup with the magnetic field and the ghosts is creative and provokes questions about the nature of the human soul a.k.a. the electromagnetic imprint left by humans after they die. There is very mild humor in the base commander’s anxiety about the safe return of the transportation equipment the minister uses. Three stars.

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