Today we get four stories for the price of one! They’re all from the same series, or at least the same universe and feature characters related to one another. They’re all short pieces, so I figured it made the most sense to just group them together. Onwards! To the rambling!
Season’s Meaning is a stand-alone short story. Have the product description!
Captain Alysha Forrest is taking advantage of leave to do a little holiday shopping at the largest mall in the Alliance’s summer capital… when a little boy gets into a little trouble. A holiday feel-good story from the Pelted universe.
You don’t need to have read any of the preceding stories about Alysha, but having an idea of the setting is something I’d definitely recommend. The whole ebook is only around 3,000 words long and, as such, there isn’t really a lot of room for world-building. With the variety found among the Pelted, that’s something that will really enhance your appreciation and understanding of this little short story.
It’s exactly what the description promises, too: it’s a holiday feel-good story. It’s sweet, it’s fun, it warms your heart. Well, it warmed my heart. It’s got a little bit of a bite to it underneath, but mostly it’s a lovely little read for the holidays. Short, sweet, fun.
When the Sci-Fi Experience came around, I knew I had to talk about this around the December holidays. It’s too fitting not to.
Second is the only novella of the lot. If you dive into this straight from Alysha’s Fall you may be in for a slight narrative shock as the viewpoint character isn’t Alysha. I was, but then I may have neglected to reacquaint myself with the description prior to reading it. It’s a great combination, though, because it allows us a good look at how other people perceive Alysha.
The style is a little rough in places, but the characters are strong and Hogarth’s tackles themes of racism and what it takes to be a leader. It’s a tightly-plotted and powerful piece. Nothing about the characters or the plot is easy and Hogarth tends to ask you to view multiple sides of an issue, to see how people come to do the things that they do. The descriptions are lush and vivid, just enough to set the scene and bring the world alive without overshadowing the characters.
In the Line of Duty shows us Alysha at a later point in her career. For me, this story serves as an introduction, of sorts, to the chatcaava empire. They make a cameo more than anything. It also introduced me to the Platies whom I don’t think I’ve encountered in any of the other Pelted stories before.
Like most short stories, it does suffer from the fact that I remember them very badly. I know I enjoyed it. It was a good way to see how Alysha has grown as a character while still being recognisably herself. It’s possibly more of a character study than anything else. Which means it’s exactly the kind of story I enjoy, but it’s also a study that, because I’ve read the stories about Alysha in fairly rapid succession, probably didn’t have quite the impact it would’ve had otherwise.
Dark Lighthouse doesn’t feature Alysha. It features Taylitha Basil who I met first in Second. I recommend reading that one before you start on this one as you’ll know Taylitha better and, I suspect, have a (slightly) stronger understanding of the tensions between the Pelted and the humans that’s required to really understand the underlying tensions. It won’t stand on its own too well.
It also suffers from being too short for what it wants to accomplish. The romance is a touching one between the Karaka’An Taylitha and the human station commander she meets while ferrying supplies around. A lot of their feelings are only hinted at very briefly and subtly, though they’re definitely present. To me the length’s real flaw is that it doesn’t allow Hogarth to explore Taylitha’s response to the romance in more detail as it leaves her flustered and confused and raises questions of when someone is racist and how privilege affects us.
You probably don’t want to make this your first foray into this universe, because though it’s good it’s not what it could be and it won’t stand on its own too well. That said, if you have the grounding the story won’t give you and you like the universe there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy what the story has to offer you.