The Far Reaches Reviews: “Falling Bodies” by Rebecca Roanhorse

Story


Somewhat recently, Amazon got together six writers you’ve likely heard of and tasked them with writing science fiction stories. It’s called “The Far Reaches.” And, with how fun it was reviewing the similar series, “Creature Feature,” it seemed like a good idea to continue the trend.

So, we’ll be seeing which one is the best, and going over them in the order they are presented. Starting with…


“Falling Bodies” by Rebecca Roanhorse

Falling Bodies” is an outlier, so far, in this collection. The concept of time does play a part in the story, but no more than any story that deals with someone’s past. There are plenty of sci-fi elements, but it takes place on a normal time scale.

Instead, this story uses its future setting for a heavily political story. In “Falling Bodies” humanity—and other, unnamed species—have been conquered by an alien race. In a way that’s very evocative of colonialism. It’s a short enough story that it doesn’t explore the history of what exactly happened—but it’s enough details you get a sense of things.

“Falling Bodies” is more focused on the central character’s internal conflict spurred on by that history. He’s a human adopted by the aliens—and lived most of his life on the alien planet. I question, besides for pacing reasons, why it takes a long time for the reader to know the exact details of his life—as it’s not a big twist or anything—but we end up with a person pulled between different groups, different species, and different possible futures.

And that’s kind of the whole plot. The reader follows along as our MC interacts with different people, and his perspectives seem to change and waver. The conclusion is his final decision and is only the last few pages. Up until then, it’s almost entirely conversations and thinking.

That doesn’t mean it’s not engaging. The prose is top-notch. Though often sparsely described, you get a real sense of what these futuristic locations look like. Background characters don’t get that much time, but they all feel like they have internal motivations. And, over the course of the actual words-on-page writing, there are a few metaphors that are just great. Since the conflict is so internal, the writing had to be strong. It wouldn’t have been readable otherwise.

But “Falling Bodies” is quite readable. I can’t speak on the accuracy of the metaphors about colonialism and living in its aftermath, but as a political sci-fi thriller, it’s a well-paced read with an impactful ending.        

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