“I remain an atheist, but now I am an atheist who prays.”
– Stant Litore, “Ansible 15717”
A while back, we published a review of Stant Litore‘s short story “Ansible 15715”. Litore has written several more short stories following other Ansibles on their journeys through space and time, which he compiled into a collection.
The premise of the Ansible universe is that the Muslim world is yet again humankind’s center of research and innovation. The organization Starmind sends several brave pioneers to explore other worlds and make contact with other beings in the universe. These explorers are known as Ansibles. We get to read their reports of what they found in the deepest corners of space.
The Ansible: Season One collection is definitely not for readers looking for some light science fiction entertainment. Throughout each one of these stories is a sense of anxiety and claustrophobia that is so powerful that it’s almost impossible to separate yourself from the narrators. At the same time, we don’t learn all that much about the characters. Their entries are deeply personal, so we are allowed inside their most private thoughts, but at the same ignorant of their origins.
It’s nearly impossible to gain a clear picture of someone with little to no background of their lives and no unbiased accounts of interactions with others. Yet somehow, I felt connected to these characters. Perhaps it is my own past experiences with isolation and uncertain circumstances, albeit not as dramatic as those endured by the Ansibles. Because I could identify with their feelings of loneliness, I felt helpless reading their stories. I was angered by the fact that they’d been abandoned by those who sent them on their mission and even more frustrated by the fact that I, as the counterfeit anthropologist reading their log entries, was powerless to save them.
The latest installment in the series, “Ansible 2”, provides some of the insight into Starmind that we’ve been craving. It’s not some mysterious, heartless organization that cares nothing for the Ansibles. It’s a research group comprised of humans, with human emotions and capable of committing human errors that have enormous consequences.
In this series, Litore explores mankind’s relationship with nature, technology and religion. The Ansibles all have different perspectives on how their past and current lives have been impacted by their experiences with all three. Every Ansible struggles with their own identity as they assume new bodies but retain their conscious minds. With these themes, there’s quite a bit of cause for introspection. What is it about ourselves that scares us? What brings us peace in moments of darkness?
While “Ansible 15717” (note: if I had to pick a favorite, “Ansible 15717” would be it) clearly falls within the science fiction-horror genre, the other stories incite a different type of fear. The terror of loneliness and the unknown is at times more powerful than the fear of a tangible adversary. The Ansible stories are perfect for when it’s the middle of the night and you need something quick to help you fall asleep. That is, if you’re craving a good nightmare.
Ansible: Season One (Volume 1) is now available for purchase here on Amazon. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. You can also follow Stant Litore on Twitter @thezombiebible if you’re looking to stay updated on the author’s work. His latest Ansible story, “Ansible 15718” is also now available for Kindle on Amazon…if you dare.
If you enjoyed reading Marlo’s ansible, you can find the rest of her work right HERE on Sci-Fi Bloggers. You can also follow her on Twitter @marloclingman, like her on Facebook, or add her to your network on Google.
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