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Here, We Articulate Beautiful Minds

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

May 2, 2019: Junction Point is a special little experience which I loved and most will either really really enjoy or find distinctly lacking. It’s a tale of an academic bent, with many trappings of Western storytelling either mutated or outright substituted. Don’t read this if you’re looking for a different take on the Hero’s Journey. For that matter, there’s virtually no conflict of any sort for a very long time, aside from the always-implicit sense of danger when one’s setting is outside a known habitable planet’s atmosphere.

Instead, Junction Point is a very specific kind of affair. Following Ms. Liu and crew, you’ll more than likely pick up some amount of novel exposure and knowledge in the realms of astrophysics or xenology. You won’t probably find yourself really falling in love with the cast. It has a take-it-as-it-is kind of feeling in many respects. The one major deviation from this pattern comes in the attempt to really evoke the idea of thinking living creatures as stargazers: that feeling of looking up at night and feeling the weight and majesty of an upended ocean. Perhaps the goal is to push the reader into once again embracing that first time they saw the heavens at midnight, and the artificiality of words just couldn’t cut it. If so, it does pretty well even for a person such as myself, whose wordless-awe quotient is fairly anemic of late.

The characters involved all essentially have a single shared goal: learn. It means that linguist Liu is supposed to be gathering information on a mysterious something-or-other of apparently sentient origin. She isn’t concerned with mounting phase cannon arrays or trying to save the Earth from being glassed by solar flare. In fact, as becomes clear when the aliens finally appear on the horizon, the whole point of the endeavor is to take two fundamentally different somethings and reconcile them: mind to mind, perspective to perspective, story to story. Ultimately, isn’t that the whole point of writing for that matter? To take what is in one brain and ferry it to another despite the adversity of communication? Junction Point has both a highly clinical skin and a philosophical soul, and Thuktun Flishithy obviously has skill with giving voice to a work of this kind. If a sequel to this should ever appear on the horizon, I for one will be paying close attention.

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