by Catherine Wells
Novella, 19,132 Words
Published in the November 2017 issue
of Analog Science Fiction and Fact
Edited by Trevor Quachri
After the Food Wars and a series of global storms and other cataclysms force the evacuation of Earth, two small bands of survivors remain behind. The Men on the Mountain depend on left-over tech, including ships that allow them to raid far-flung ruins for supplies and materials. The village of The People lives in harmony with The Mother Earth, using only those things She provides.
Each group believes the other perished decades ago. Each group struggles with the necessities of survival for their small band. When the two groups cross paths, the leaders of each have different ideas on how to pursue the best outcome for all.
Catherine Wells is not new to storytelling, but this is my first time reading her work. Her characters are strong and well-defined. Alfonso’s wisdom, Ruben’s courage, Chico’s resentment all ring true. I could put myself in any of their shoes and understand why they reacted the way they did, or at least see enough evidence of that sort of behavior in the world around me to know its portrayal is realistic. Artfully placed narrative clues about characters, backstory, and a few surprising twists all made for a richer reading experience.
The encounter between the surviving bands happens early, and Wells lingers over the ensuing relations between them in good storytelling style. The tale felt to me a microcosmic example of issues human societies face today. And if humanity continues in its current direction as far as development of tech with too little concern for the long-term effects on our ecosystem, the scenario she sets could certainly serve as a warning of what our own future might hold, if we don’t change our ways.
In all, I found Native Seeds to be a delightful tale.