royalty-free-writing-clipart-illustration-1146779This story was published by Analog, 11-2014. A bastion of traditionalism, Analog has four nominations this year. You can tell they are basking in the glow. All four are posted on their website. On to the review…

Rist is from the Tharn Lands. He is on an adventure, as he has caught a ride with a berg-crew that brings icebergs downriver from the Cold Lands to the Warm Lands where they sell them to city dwellers for a bag full of coppers. When they arrive at their destination, the city-dwellers catch the berg with a net of wonderful fabric and the crew gets off, spending some time in the city before starting home. Rist encounters many wonders, such as blue sky, pulleys, dogs, a temple and buxom females. He gets a pier man to help him steal some of the wonderful fabric, and the man is caught and executed by the priests. They come after Rist, too, but he escapes and discovers a new world in a valley downriver.

This is well-written but the mountain of detail about elements strange to Rist and mostly familiar to any Earth human means the story moves very slowly. It could easily have been much shorter. We see a possible Earth-influenced culture from an alien perspective, but Rist comes across more as an ignorant human than an alien. The system of writing is the only serious world-building that takes place, and there is some distance calculation with shadows. The only question the story asks is how the priests can be so cruel to their own kind. That means it’s not especially thought-provoking. Two stars.

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