A Heartfelt and Mesmerizing Sci-Fi Drama
Greg and Lou learn that their daughter has a terminal illness. In their desperation, they make a deal from which there is no return. When their crimes are exposed, their world is turned upside down.
Henry wants nothing more than to leave his Amish community behind, even as their land is under threat; their traditions under fire; and their faith faces its greatest test. But his mother is his world - where she goes, so too will he.
Circumstances bring these two worlds together - a family banished to the edge of the galaxy; a community praying for a new life and the re-orientation of their destiny.
But when fate abandons them to an uncharted, inhospitable planet, some struggle for survival while others embrace the opportunity to explore this strange new world. Relationships are tested, beliefs are tried and emotions are pushed to the limit.
Yet Sha'Kert has a place for all.
And Sha'ntwoy and Kert'ankway touched their hearts to his; and through him knew they loss.
Sha'Kert: End of Night is a multi-perspective first-person novel.
The extracts below provide a glimpse into the minds of each of the main characters shown.
I know it’s commonplace, every hour this scene is played out again and again but for me it’s new, for eons before me only a dream. I imagine myself an old-time astronaut, a daredevil strapped atop hundreds of feet of rocket to risk an oxygen–kerosene immolation, crushed to near death for the chance to see, to go for a few hours or a few days and then return knowing there are no more trips, to settle into a disturbed and unfulfilling existence. I watch the coffee-brown Earth shrink, a ball that holds all I know, all I’ve done, creep down until all is blackness, eternal void.
I’ve no more left; I’m empty, poured out. As much as I’ve asked him, the question turns back to me. What do I want? Do I want this family, this him? I know the answer, but I deny its existence, suppress it, bury it deep inside me. All the stars are gone, a cold breeze starts in, smells of dank. I stand, pull my sleeves down. He hasn’t moved, eyes fixed ahead, arms crossed. “You’re right in a way. Menno and the others were looking for
something and they’ve found it. I think I may have found something, too. You’re still looking.” I walk to the threeship; a cold rain starts as I look back. His head’s on his knees, forehead on forearms as mist and breeze extinguish the embers, send him back into the night. I turn, rejoin the others.
Louise (Lou) Robertson
The words spill out easily. I listen, detached and curious, thankful the language of belief carries me through. It is simple enough. It is not about the deceased, the lifeless husk of flesh being returned to the dust. If this was Earth, they would eulogize him, talk of what he did, or who he was, or the gaps left raw and bleeding that will never heal. After all, what more do the English have, where is their hope?
“It’s not the thing itself but what it does to us that matters. It’s how it’s used, what it leads to. The threeship’s not good or bad, the same way a plow’s not evil or holy. Travelling in this had a purpose that was correct, but to own it or travel in it just to travel is another thing.” Freda shifts, tucks her dress back in below her knees. “Like everything else. Who’s the master and who’s the servant. There’s
only room for one master and that’s God.”
She stares at me, tears my heart out. This is why I wanted to sneak out, what I tried to avoid, why most Amish boys leave like thieves in the night. Not for the sternness of their fathers, not the judgment and gossip of their neighbors, but the breaking of their mothers’ hearts. She half raises one arm; it falls back as if changing its mind. “Goodbye, Henry.”
Ishmael's writing is genuine and heartfelt, insightful and raw. He weaves a tale of desperation, isolation, separation and - ultimately - discovery that manages to comment on the ills and obligations of modern society while screaming at us to find our own reason for living.
We are indeed privileged to have such a gem for our debut publication.
Ishmael lives with his wife in Brisbane, Australia, and has been writing since 1996. He has published two collections of Science Fiction shorts - Hawking Radiation and Sex and the Single Cosmonaut - as well as more than 50 other Science Fiction stories in such volumes as Aphelion, Antipodean SF, Far Cry Magazine, Planet Magazine, Schlock! Webzine, and Unrealpolitik.
You can find him on Twitter @Ishmael_Soledad or through his website, https://ishmael-a-soledad.com.
This wonderful cover art was produced by our Creator Creature, Gaia.
Provided with concept sketches and descriptions by Ishmael, Gaia interpreted the author's vision beautifully:
A mystery figure stands to the left at a row of deckchairs
In the rippling water to the right, the 'threeship' and silhouettes of central characters (Menno, Lou, and Pen) are reflected
Above this entrancing scene, the enigmatic 'pearl' hangs in the dark sky.