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Saturday, May 3, 2014

"Brightness Falls from the Air" by Margaret St. Clair

First appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Reprinted (a few of which are genre retrospectives) by Everett F. Bleiler, T. E. Dikty, J. Francis McComas, Brian W. Aldiss, David G. Hartwell.

Kerr meets Rhysha of the bird people, the Nyagir, one of a number aliens on human-colonized worlds when she came to collect one of her dead.  The Nyagir exist because humans like to watch the bird people fight each other, but they are vanishing.  The Nyagir fought before, yes, but only as a ritual.  Kerr feels for Rhysha's peoples' plight and applies for their placement on a new colony.

* Spoilers *

The application is turned down, with some vehemence.  What was Kerr thinking?  Bird people?

When Kerr returns, Rhysha has killed herself (presumably by fighting in one of the battles for human amusement).  An intrusive ad, blaring through the window, points out the practice will continue..

There is some irony in that Kerr sings and the bird people do not--irony since terrestrial birds are known for their songs.  If you recognize the irony, this may accentuate the Nyagir people's plight.

Like "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles", the story deals with St. Clair's preoccupation with global connectivity and consciousness.  In this case, unconscionably, some humans are only interested in another culture in so far as they see of a use for it.

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