Author: T.A. Creech
Publisher: JMS Books LLC
Pages/Word Count: 17 Pages
At a Glance: A pretty classic sci-fi plot that can be traced back all the way to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Blurb: War awaits on Ilmare, between the humans and the constructs they created. Considered flawed designs by their creators, Selati and his other sentient comrades live the life of refugees on the run, hiding and fighting in Ilmare’s vast jungles. They want only the freedom to pursue their newly awakened sentience away from human interference.
Aleledai taught Selati all he knows of a life without chains and suffering. Neither can know what tomorrow will bring, rather all too well what it could take from them both. On the cusp of war, Selati returns to his lover to spend one last night in the peaceful world that only exists in Aleledai’s arms.
Review: “Slither”, at a little over 5,000 words, is a short story that effectively makes use of two events – one very public and overarching, the other, an intimate moment between a married couple – in order to provide us with a story that’s not quite complete on the surface but leaves an emotional resonance at the end. By and large, it’s not much more than a vignette, and short stories can easily be botched up when an author attempts to cram too much into such a small word count. What works in this case is the fact that T.A. Creech has chosen to highlight the backstory as well as the sex scene as a way of establishing the emotional context of Selati and Aleledai’s night together before a great battle. And rather than spoonfeed readers one scene following another, we’re encouraged to connect the dots, stretch our imaginations further, and emotionally connect with not just the couple, but also their race.
The story has a pretty classic sci-fi plot that can be traced back all the way to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Here we have instead humans who defy Nature and create a race meant for nothing else but hard labor. Moral issues arise when the constructs slowly evolve and develop sentience, and like Frankenstein’s monster, they rebel against their creators and abusers. A lot of books and movies have been done along those lines. For “Slither”, things are scaled down further (no pun intended on the “scale” reference), and we’re shown something more like a microcosm that focuses strictly on Selati and Aleledai’s lives together as a married pair of “unnaturals”.
The backstory is told in a somewhat lengthy summary at the start, and it provides a backdrop against which the couple enjoy a night together before the battle. It’s a sharp and somewhat harsh contrast, and it’s because of that we’re made to see just how unfair it all is. The story doesn’t give us any answers, but with the melancholy fatalism that pervades every scene, it’s really not necessary in the end. We only need to see how awful it is for the constructs to live the way they do, and for the story to end the way it does allows us not only to feel deeply for them, but also hold on to the hope that good fortune can still go their way.
You can buy Slither here: