A Review of Camille Alexa’s Children of the Device (In Here Be Monsters: Tongues and Teeth: Issue Seven, 2012)
By Derek Newman-Stille
Since the world is supposed to end at the end of this month according to the Mayan Calendar, I thought I would begin the month with an apocalyptic story by Camille Alexa. Nothing better prepares us for the holidays than a reminder of the dangers of human greed.
Only one ship carrying thousands escaped the destruction of the Earth in Camille Alexa’s Children of the Device and five generations into the ship’s voyage, Earth’s traditions linger – from New Year’s resolutions to our perpensity for overpopulation and selfish greed.
Plagues have spread through the colony ship, erasing much of the access to historical records, and, Alexa gives the reader a reminder that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it as humanity cycles through the destructive behaviours that led to the destruction of their own world. Instead of learning from each previous generation, the human colonists repeat the horrors of human history, desiring more for themselves than their fellow human beings, privileging present desires over the needs of future generations, and solving debates with deadly battles. The pervasive attitudes that lead to Earth’s destruction continue to surface as the fundamental selfishness of the human animal surfaces even far from home.
A lot of space narratives begin with the image of escaping a destroyed Earth and see this as a moment of freeing ourselves from our past and from the gravitational shackles of home that kept us back from the universe, but Camille Alexa reminds us that a change in environment does not facilitate a change in attitude and escaping from our roots does not prevent us from growing back like weeds to infect new environments with our selfish intentions. Alexa warns readers about the dangers of presentist thinking, and the belief that an accumulation of more things now wards off the dangers of loneliness and sorrow.