"Seven Years from Home" is a 2010 science fiction novelette by Naomi Novik. It is about a woman who goes to a warring planet to help her government, but ends up helping the natives.
Ruth Patrona has recently graduated, and has been shipped out to the planet Melida on assignment for the Confederacy. Her job is not an easy one – and it is a little bit sneaky to boot! She is to establish herself among the planet’s native Melidan population, and give them subtle help – all in an effort to push them towards joining the Confederacy some day. The tricky part is that her superior officer is working the same angle among the Melidans’ enemies: the Esperigans! After a rough journey to her new Melidan home, and a long time trying to gain the trust of the locals, she finally succeeds in being helpful. She starts by helping her adopted village detect and destroy the deadly mobile mines that the Esperigans are sending into the forest. This only opens the floodgates and soon she is participating in all kinds of Melidan attacks on the Esperigans. Ah – how heady is her violent success! Anyway, after many years and lots of deep connections to her new-found Melidan friends, she must ultimately make the decision of who she will support and how she will do it. Yep – see what happens when you play both sides of an argument? No good can come of this!
My Two Cents
- Story: – I thought this was a great story, and really enjoyed reading it. Even though this isn’t the most unique story idea, there were still several ideas that kept it compelling and kept my interest high.
- Writing: – Excellent all around! The structure of the story, the tone, even the words – all made a great impact on the story telling without dragging me out of my suspension of disbelief.
- Fun Factor: – Yeah, even though it felt similar to the movie Avatar, and was a little bit predictable, it was still fun to read! The bio-engineering ideas of the Melida were very cool, thought provoking and just downright fun to read about!
Where To Find Seven Years from Home
- This short story was originally published in 2010 as part of the Warriors anthology.
- You can read "Seven Years from Home" for free online at the Clarkesworld magazine web site.
- It is also included in Mammoth Book of Best New Science Fiction: 24th Annual Collection.
Craving More SF Stories Like This One?
If you enjoyed "Seven Years from Home" then you may also like "The Streets of Ashkelon" by Harry Harrison – about small aliens on a newfound planet, and the trader and missionary who try to convince them of opposing ideas.