cover image The Necessity of Stars

The Necessity of Stars

E. Catherine Tobler. Neon Hemlock, $12.99 trade paper (72p) ISBN 978-1-952086-18-2

In prose just as slippery, glimmering, and strange as the arboreal aliens it describes, Tobler (The Grand Tour) probes the nature of memory and humanity’s impact on planet Earth. In 2148, Bréone Hemmerli, the 63-year-old Secretary General of the now largely obsolete United Nations, lives alone on Normandy’s Irislands estate, a garden oasis on a rapidly dying Earth. Once a brilliant diplomat, Bréone’s body and mind are failing, but she and her beloved neighbor, environmental scientist Delphine, still care deeply about the state of the planet and track the news of terrorist attacks plaguing the isolationist United Kingdom. Because of her faulty memory, Bréone doesn’t know whether to trust her own mind when she notices something odd in her garden—the shadows behave strangely and the trees seem to move. Then she meets Tura, an alien creature described as “part insect, part tree,” who tells her the story of how their species came to Earth—and offers her a surprising path forward into a terrifying, but possibly brighter, future. Tobler does a fantastic job creating an alien race that feels truly other and conjuring Bréone’s confused mental state as she struggles to make sense of Tura’s offer. Lyrical and utterly transfixing, Tobler’s gorgeous novella packs a punch. [em](July) [/em]