Jan 22nd, 2018, The Seeds of Consciousness: 4701’s Story by James Gunn, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2018

James Gunn’s recent work has been expository space opera. Asimov’s has published a running series of back stories for characters in his Transcendental series, and this story is a back story to a sentient plant character.

But it’s not really about that sentient plant. It’s more a history lesson about how this plant and its species came into being. One of the main issues I have with narratives told from a non-human PoV, is that humanness invariably seeps into the alien’s way of thinking, feeling, and acting. This isn’t surprising, but it does make me stop and wonder things like, why is this very human emotion being attributed to this thing that is so far beyond our ideas of sentience? i.e. this sentient plant thing-creature.

However, this narrative is different. There aren’t “main” characters in it like much of the other installments along this vein Gunn has published, and surprisingly, this one worked for me. It was an education of how these plant things became sentient and how they overcame adversity, and that was all pretty cool. Was it a heart-wrenching piece? No. But it was interesting in its imaginativeness. It kept me there and reading a sub-genre I typically get lost in or lose interest in. So we’ll call this one a win for Mr. Gunn. (B)


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