East of the Sun, West of the Stars is a beautifully written journey into space, featuring a woman whose purpose is to keep her culture’s stories alive. I was most impressed with the sense of home the author brought to the spaceship. While this is an evacuation story of sorts, the characters are extremely thoughtful of their cultural traditions and stories. They’ve essentially transplanted their lives onto a ship, carrying it to a new world where they can begin anew.
The fantasy element is done perfectly, incorporating a fairy tale into the narrative that fuels the story to its surprising conclusion. The main character is the storyteller and one in particular begins to speak to her, taking up shop in her head every night in her dreams.
Most interesting is the clinical devolution of cultural creation at the end. The main character is present for the beginning of what will become their culture’s new creation myth, done in large part through genetic modification. This final realization pulls the magic out of the fairy tale, leaving it bare as you consider how many of our myths started as a manufactured thing.
Overall, East of the Sun, West of the Stars is a well-balanced story, packing science fiction and fantasy elements into a compelling narrative that speaks to the continuation of culture after the world is gone.
East of the Sun, West of the Stars
Written by Brit E. B. Hvide