“The Godfall’s Chemsong” by Jeremiah Tolbert

IZ224 coverI enjoyed this, but then, I have a soft spot for sf stories told entirely from an alien point of view, like Tiptree’s “Love is the Plan the Plan is Death” or Benjamin Rosenbaum’s “Embracing-the-New”, which I suspect makes me look more kindly on “The Godfall’s Chemsong” than it really deserves. None of these stories can ever really do what they promise, obviously, but there’s a sweet spot between total incomprehensibility and humans-with-fins (or whatever) that I can’t resist.

This story errs on the side of the human, the transparent. Its aliens are undersea creatures whose world is defined by scent, and much of whose food comes as godfall, the bodies of other organisms falling from the surface. The protagonist, Muskblue, not the most successful female in her pod, encounters an unusual godfall while on her own: it is “thin, straight, only three times as long as Muskblue, with two narrow limbs at each end”. It’s a crime not to share godfall; she is banished; she finds a way to survive; she works out what this new sort of godfall means. Hard not to compare this to Helen Keeble’s “A Lullaby“, or the opening section of In Great Waters, and find it wanting; but as I say, I did enjoy it.