Book: Grace Immaculate by Gregory Benford
Genre: Indie, Short Story, Science Fiction
Source + Date Read: Free online + Sept. 2012
Recommend: For those that like quickie reads with quirky topics. Oh, and it’s free. Come on.
Book Pro’s: Completely imaginative.
Book Con’s: Like some short stories, it doesn’t have enough context. Plus, I want more darn it!
Favourite Line: “Atheist Aliens! The NetNews cried.”
Illustrated by artist, Greg Ruth, the cover is a play on historical religious imagery and gives a variety of clues about the topic of the short story. A prophetic Jesus with open arms beckons something towards Him. However, his crowned heart his missing, instead there is a solid rock like mass in its place with wild, grasping tentacles sprouting forward. Why is his heart missing? Aliens, a meteor and Jesus. What? It is beautifully and artfully done
Not set in a specific country or place, the viewers only know that they are on Earth and the time jumps from present, to close future, to distant future, to centuries and millenniums ahead of the present.
Omnipresent voice that is retelling the story of Earth and their discovery of aliens. It isn’t a regular being, and almost (g)(G)od-like. They are without emotion or opinion; they merely relay things or the passing of time as they saw it.
Ambivalence is a deadly thing. Unfortunately, this short story inspires a great deal of ambivalence. We think it’s because the shortness of this short story. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve read plenty of short stories, but this one left us feeling more-ish. If you like this sorta thing though, have at it!
Benford conjures an inspired tale, one that is truly, truly imaginative, of a future world where the discovery of aliens isn’t as apocalyptic as we tend to think. This isn’t some Hollywood horror story. Rather Benford describes this discovery as a prophetic one, as the world’s religions scramble to take (g)(G)od’s message to another planet. What a great way to get into (h)(H)is good graces! Alien converts! Fuck yeah.
And that’s it. Literally. Like a typical short story, it has a non-ending of sorts. Yes it ends, but the ending isn’t really finite or complete. For us bitches, that leaves us with a feeling of hollowness and not fulfillment. Maybe we’re not short story people. We’re interested in Grace Immaculate enough though to buy a longer version of the story, yinno, if the author ever decided to turn this into a real novel with 200+ pages.
The strength of this piece is Benford’s imagination. Who knew that aliens would be interested in (g)(G)od or not want to suck out human brains! Benford’s imagination and writing also has hints of cautionary tales embedded in it. He is clearly making a jab at modern-day religion, ethos and activities. Oh how we were wrong about the aliens.
This story is well worth an hour of your time, and we fully endorse it. Benford is brilliant, really. If you’re picky about your short stories though, don’t get mad when you realise there isn’t a novel attached to this. Just saying.