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Magazine Review: ResAliens Issue #1

ResAliens Issue #1

ResAliens Issue #1

For some time, Residential Aliens (known colloquially as ResAliens) has produced “spiritually infused speculative fiction” with the intent of acknowledging that in humankind exists a penchant for the spiritual that is not often reflected in much science fiction or fantasy in any real depth or with a true acknowledgment of this aspect of the human experience.

In many cases, though not all, this can come to mean “Christian” fiction, though the people behind ResAliens try to think more broadly, as is evident in their first print-on-demand publication ResAliens Issue #1.

Editor Lyn Perry sent me a copy for review, which I devoured right away, but only recently have I had the opportunity to really process the stories that appear here. After a short half-page introduction, readers are introduced to one of ResAliens favorite writers, Fred Warren.

Warren’s story, “Of All Things Seen and Unseen” is set in a shared universe created by Robert and Karina Fabian. In this tale, an order of nuns serves as the saviors of thrill seekers who gallivant about the debris filled war zones of space. Claudia has always known that she was called to the sisterhood, but when a tragic accident takes away her ability to serve as a rescuer, her faith is called into question. It seems that only a miracle could reaffirm Claudia’s sense of calling. Fred Warren does a good job of giving a fair shake to the Catholic faith and their sometime strange (to those outside the church) ways of living. Though the story is simple enough in construct, Warren creates a compelling enough character in Claudia that the reader’s attention remains riveted. This is an excellent opening story to the first print edition of this online ‘zine.

The first tale is followed by another story of Catholics in space, but this one has a militaristic bent. A young lieutenant on leave finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue in a city of vice. The spiritual aspect of this story is not completely evident initially, but Lieutenant Palladia Conte goes through an awakening under the direction of a mysterious man with surprisingly high level military clearance. Author R. E. Diaz makes the story of “A Measure of Depth” intriguing with its mix of military space fantasy and noir mystery. Comte is not a sympathetic character, but she is an understandable one. This is good storytelling and a strong second for this issue.

“Harry and the Underworld” by Patrick G. Cox is a garbage story that I am surprised editor Perry ever bothered to publish. Though I tried several times to reread it, the mix of bad grammar, information dump at the beginning, and wooden dialogue is just horrendous. Why this story ever got published in its current state is beyond me. If a 10 year old had turned this in to a teacher, they would have been lucky to get an F.

Fortunately, the issue is redeemed from the last entry by Dan Devine’s story of alien first encounters in “Learning the Ropes”. This story has no explicit or implicit spiritually element that I could find, it is simply a great story about how a word choices and understood definitions, can often be the greatest barrier to understanding even between like species, much less two different sentient ones. This is the kind of story I would read to students in the classroom to show how words have power and meanings are important.

Though not an original topic (the first Star Trek movie dealt with the same idea – that of Voyager I returning to earth) Michael W. Garza puts his own spin on the idea with “Return to Sender”. Poking fun at accepted science, Garza ends his story on a humorous note, poking a little fun at the eggheads who seem to think they know everything. After the more serious stories of the issue, this lighthearted tale was a welcome friend.

I admit to not quite getting John Farrell’s “Venus Theotokos”. This story takes its basis in a Russian Orthodox view of Christianity, in a universe where we can get to Venus, but in which Islam is the ruling religion of the world and America seems to have fallen off of its lofty perch. The protagonist is a man named Nicholas who serves as the minister for the Russians onboard a space cruiser bound to Venus. Nicholas also has a crisis of faith, one which leads him to perform a mad stunt, one whose repercussions are left open-ended. It is an okay story, but at times I got a little lost in the plot and didn’t quite know where I was. Also, the significance of the stunt pulled by Nicholas was not made clear to me, so I was left feeling like I only had half a story.

There are only six stories in this first issue of ResAliens, all by men, all set in space. Editor Lyn Perry answers the potential objection to the first by noting in the concluding letter that the next issue will have seven contributors, four of whom are women. As to the second, Perry also assures the reader that the next issue will focus on fantasy.

The cover of this issue does not pertain to any story in it (though it might to Cox’s story, but who can tell?) though “Guardians” by Garret DeChellis is visually appealing. The simple layout of the cover is a precursor to the clean lines (though on yellow paper) and fairly clear text of the interior.

ResAliens Issue #1 is a success, and I found I really enjoyed this departure from the mainstream ethos of science fiction. If you are looking for stories more like those of the “Golden Age” or are looking for tales that take spiritual things seriously, I highly recommend you get a copy.