Black Gate Online, February 10, 2013

Tuesday, 12 February 2013 17:31 Louis West
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Black Gate Online, February 10, 2013

“Life on the Sun” by C.S.E. Cooney

Reviewed by Louis West

C.S.E. Cooney’s “Life on the Sun” is bold and powerful, embracing Kantu’s journey from warrior, to sacrificial death, to godhood and finally returning full circle to rediscovery of her humanity. While the previous story in this series, “Godmother Lizard,” entranced me, this one captured a piece of my soul. Brilliant.

Kantu, warrior of the Bird People, seeks to rid her desert city, Rok Moris, of the occupiers from the Empire of the Open Palm. When Fa Izikban Azur and his Army of Childless Men march upon Rok Moris, Kantu and her people rise up. But the Fa did not come to liberate, but to reclaim those who belonged to him—Kantu, his daughter, and the Rokka Mama, mother to the Bird People and the Fa’s favorite wife, even after she had killed him. Except gods only die at their appointed time. The Fa’s land and people are dying of draught, and his daughter was meant to save them by leaping from a cliff upon turning five. The Fa will return Rok Moris to the Bird People in exchange for Kantu’s sacrifice that will in turn bring back the rains.

Kantu realizes that she’d always known this was to be her fate, a fate she willingly embraces to give life back to her father’s people and freedom to her mother’s. She falls, but only to fly, the first to fly of the thousands of girls who’d gone before her. And she is transformed--Storm Bird, Rain Bringer, the Rok of Rok Maris, the Raptor of Sanis Al. Except even gods don’t forget their human origins, and Kantu longs to return, even if for a little while, to those she once loved.

I don’t know how Cooney weaves so many rich story arcs into a single novelette tapestry. But, on a scale of 1 to 10, I rank this one as a twelve.


Louis West. Sub-atomic physics, astronomy, biophysics, medical genetics and international finance all lurk in Louis’ background. He’s particularly fond of hard SF, writes reviews for a broad variety of SF&F stories and volunteers at various New England SF&F conferences. His own SF writing explores the personal, social and cultural impacts of evolving nano-tech.