Beneath Ceaseless Skies #52
September 23, 2010
“The Guilt Child” by Margaret Ronald
“Invitation of the Queen” by Therese Arkenberg
Reviewed by Robert Leishman
Carla lives in a world where machines are animated and more or less obedient, but when they become sentient they grow legs, if they don’t already have them, and walk away. They abandon their human owners for a place that is somewhere “east, past the mountains to the Hundred Cities of the free walkers.”
In “The Guilt Child” Margaret Ronald follows the journey of eleven-year-old Carla from her father’s home to that of her well-to-do cousin James. But, as Carla finds out, his source of wealth is a machine that has become sentient. In fact, the machine, named Stamper, has been sentient for some time, but, for some reason, hasn’t left them. Soon Carla finds herself part of the ruse that keeps Stamper from leaving.
“The Guilt Child” has a strong story arc and characters a reader can identify with. A good read.
In “Invitation of the Queen” Therese Arkenberg gives us a story told through the eyes of a soldier, an officer in an army of occupation.
The officer’s name is Hary but the story he tells is mainly about his fellow officer Ander Leuhovesen and a woman named Tahileh. Ander is a close friend of Hary’s who admires him a great deal. Tahileh is a Djubati, one of the conquered races that the soldiers are there to keep in line.
Hary had prevented Tahileh from being raped by soldiers under his command and then taken her into his home, ostensibly as a maid and housekeeper. It’s the kind of thing an officer is allowed to do as long as he’s quiet about it. It’s through Hary that Ander meets Tahileh.
Ander is reading a forbidden book: An Invitation of the Queen of the Bright Lands, a piece of Djubati literature that he’d saved from being burned.
It’s an analysis of the relationship between the conquered and the conqueror and worth a read.