Thursday, December 07, 2006

Holding Wonder

Holding Wonder

Zenna Henderson

Date: June, 1972   —   used only   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

This is a collection of stories from the creator of The People, characters who are pretty much human except for powers such as telepathy and telekinesis (and, oh, the fact that they came from a distant star.) The People have to hide their abilities because of the times they live in; though they are people of deep (and vaguely Christian) faith, they are often burned as witches or shunned for other reasons.

Similar sensibilities permeate the stories in this collection. Primary characters are often teachers dealing with strange children, such as the folks in "The Closest School" who have to deal with enrolling a furry alien child, or the teacher in "The Believing Child" who has to talk a girl into changing several boys back from being rocks. Some of the stories dance on the edge of reality; a particularly sad example deals with a child in a family that is breaking apart, because reading between the lines tells you every part of a sordid tale that some children have to deal with in their lives.

Several stories deal with the threat of nuclear war, but in a way that indicates that the dangers might not just come from a fractious mankind, but might be something stranger and less preventable; whether a meteor strike or the Hand of God smiting the wicked, these stories seem to say, this is our world now and we must deal with it. Most of the stories are set in the West, southern Colorado or Arizona, perhaps. It's never specified, but the terrain tells its own tale.

These are classic stories that have been long overlooked. Zenna Henderson's work is full of hope and the possibility (if not always the reality) of redemption, and is perfect reading when you're feeling a little down about the state of humanity. Buy it when you can track it down.

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