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Here it is the first weekend in May and I'm just now wrapping up the March issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with "Shadow-Below" by my favorite recurring author: Robert Reed. It's the fifth of his Lakota Indian series but the first I've had the pleasure to read.
"Conrad" Shadow-Below has left the hidden Lakota to live in the open. He has worked as a security guard but is now giving wilderness survival courses to the rich and famous. He is Raven's uncle, the main character from the first story, and is being pestered to take the boy in to fulfill his part in a prophesy.
Shadow-Below's current life and the stories he tells to his students helps paint a world where food production has been so perfected that the wealthy are buying up huge acreage as personal wild life refuges. The once "tamed" landscape of the American midwest has been reverted to a wilderness state.
The native cultures, though, haven't been as lucky as the flora and fauna. With the return of the wilderness comes a romanticized view of what life must have been like for the Lakota and others. Shadow-Below while not revealing his secret connection to the hidden Lakota tries to dispel this mythology. He is constantly reminding his students that they were above all human and just as likely to be as selfish and destructive with the environment in good years as any other group. As the introduction describes the story: "This new tale takes a hard look at the future and the ways of the haves and have-nots." (p. 122).
"Shadow-Below" was my favorite story from the March 2009 issue. I would love to read the previous stories in this series some day.
The previous stories of the hidden Lakota are:
Read my other reviews of Reed's FSF short stories:
Comment #1: Monday, May, 4, 2009 at 11:33:48
Have you checked out the Starship Sofa podcast? I think it's right up your alley. I listened to one yesterday and loved it. Short stories, book reviews, general articles. You can get it through their site or via iTunes.
<"comment2">Comment #2: Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 09:18:24
No I haven't listened to any of the Starship Sofa. I'm not much of a podcast or audiobook listener. There's so much noise in my life, I prefer quiet reading.