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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Diabolical Plots #26B, April 2017

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Diabolical Plots #26B, April 2017

The Long Pilgrimage of Sister Judith” by Paul Starkey

Reviewed by Rebecca DeVendra

Paul Starkey tells a tale about the life of a religious order in “The Long Pilgrimage of Sister Judith.” The order is set in a generation-ship society, “the Ark,” where the most revered authority figures are designated as Mavens. Sister Judith is summoned for an unknown purpose, and learns that she is Maven-elect. The order’s teleology is centered on the mechanical operations of the ship. People who die have their souls “recycled,” and the daily prayers recite the goal of reaching a habitable planet. The ending comes with a twist, and asks the question: what happens to the order when the ship reaches its goal? Could it adapt to a new environment without people becoming apostates? A clever, thought-provoking story.


Rebecca DeVendra is a figure artist and speculative fiction writer living in Boston. She grew up in Ohio and went to school there, and has a background in curriculum writing. She's also a mom to three cacophonous, early-rising children. She's probably in her pajamas, but she has an emergency collar shirt for video calls. Check out her blog.