We Don’t Know Why by Nancy Springer

We Don’t Know Why by Nancy Springer
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (9 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

To a future girl, Mishell, who flies with the aid of anti-gravity wings, the death in a freak accident of a beloved older brother, Mykel, is hard to accept. Why had it happened? To Mykel, of all people? Why ?

Rebelliously going AWOL from her home spacecraft, cruising the sky of an earth-like planet, Mishell is worshipped by primitive people who believe she is an angel. After she rescues one of them, their faith in her is boundless, and she begins to understand the weight of the question, “Why?”

Why do bad things happen to good people? Does everything really happen for a reason?

Arthur C. Clarke once said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Mishell certainly never expected a spontaneous joy ride to end with her being worshipped by the indigenous people of the planet her parents have been studying, but her flustered reaction to being elevated to a god-like status endeared me to this character. I get the impression that Kris, the teenage boy with whom she was sneaking around, would have approached this scenario much more cynically. As much as I hated to see Mishell in danger, I was relieved that the more innocent member of this duo was the one to make first contact with the primitive people who discover her after her accident.

This story has a conclusive ending, but as I was reading I wished Mishell’s adventures could be expanded into a novella. Mishell’s thoughts and feelings were so vividly described that I felt like I was travelling alongside her, and I never wanted her narrative to end. It would have satisfied my curiosity to learn what happens to Kris after his time in this tale ended. I can’t imagine how he would defend an unethical decision he makes in an early scene. While it wasn’t ultimately necessary to explore this subplot in great detail, it could be a provocative excuse for a sequel if Ms. Springer ever decides to write one.

We Don’t Know Why provides a fresh, intriguing approach to some of life’s oldest questions. This is a great choice for anyone who likes philosophical science fiction that uncovers two new questions each time it answers one.

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