Tuesday, November 24, 2009

'Recording Angel" by Ian McDonald

I knew it! I was not, in fact, behind on my reading, and have completed 76 stories. I just havn't written about all of them. You see, I read the following story on Sunday, and, in the press of trying to catch up yesterday, I forgot about it completely. I am shamed.

So, "Recording Angel." This particularly intriguing story reverses the idea of terraforming by having a mysterious alien presence on Earth that is gradually starting to reform Earth into an alien landscape called the "Chaga" The story itself takes place in Kenya at the edge of the advancing line of Chaga, specifically at the famous Treehouse Hotel. The main character, Gaby, is a reporter, who, ostensibly, has been sent to the hotel to cover a running party the world's celebrities are throwing at the hotel up until the moment that the Chaga takes over.

But what she's really there for, and what she ultimately finds, is a new angle on the Chaga. Perspective. Through a man named Prederleith, a hunter in the employ of the hotel, Gaby discovers that the Chaga may not be something else, but something older. In other words, it isn't so taking the African landscape away from humanity, but, perhaps, making it into what it should have been. This, to me, is a very interesting idea, since it is, essentially, playing on the concept that colonialism has changed Africa irrecovably, and it isn't, nor can it ever again be, the suppossed "dark continent" that it was imagined to be for so many centuries. The Chaga, in its own way, is returning the unknown to Africa, and, eventually the world.

Now maybe I'm way off base. I don't know for sure, but that's the feeling I get from the story. Read it yourself and see if you agree.

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