Interesting and Colorful!
There are two short stories in this novella by S. A. Gibson: “Pratima’s Engines” and what appears to be an excerpt from another novel, “Asante’s Gullah Journey”. With no introduction to explain how—or if—these two dystopian stories are related however, they do operate off the same premise and in the same context. Both tales are quick reads.
In “Pratima’s Engines”, the story is told by Ameena, also called “The Deaf Girl”, who leads an unfulfilling life as a servant working for “The Duke” in the India of the future where entities known as “Librarians” secure books and police those who would use them for nefarious purposes. The caste system is very much alive and as strong as ever, and The Duke seems determined to keep it that way. Librarian incognito, Patima Patel, is summoned by The Duke to repair a mystery machine that has importance to his operation, but through Ameena, she discovers there is much more to The Duke’s reason for wanting its reconstruction than he has initially revealed.
In “Assante’s Gullah Journey” 3-year-old Lakisha rushes for help when Peanut (a boy) is being whipped by The Bossman. She finds a Librarian, fresh off a boat at the docks, who comes to her aid. Gibson’s plotlines—in both stories—are clear and concise, with the triumph of good winning over evil at the center of the theme. If there had been no clues to explain these stories were set in the future, one would think the plotlines were borrowed from India’s British Colonial era. Without a proper introduction, they lack context, and the reason Librarians are suddenly in charge of policing the world is completely lost on the reader. Gibson’s characters live their lives within the framework of the caste system, with the general population keeping their place unless an all-powerful Librarian states otherwise. Despite their low-born statuses, both protagonists are people who readers will find interesting and colorful, possessing a certain ethical standard and moral fortitude that seems rare among the rest of the denizens populating this world. While “Pratima’s Engines” is written in the first-person, and “Asante’s Gullah Journey” is in the third-person, it is easy to take the side of each protagonist due to their intelligence and logic.
Although I found the lack of a proper introduction to these two stories quite confusing, and most-likely would have enjoyed these reads had their characters been fleshed out further and their stories expanded upon, both are entertaining reads.
Find “Pratima’s Engines: A Short Story” by S. A. Gibson on Amazon & Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Pratimas-Engines-Short-S-Gibson-ebook/dp/B01C7YAKY2
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