My Favorite Stories in PASSAGES

I read voraciously and have always felt that stories are the voice of the collective, that is, our communities – the various essential units of society. Engaging with characters as fellow travelers on their journeys in "Passages" stimulated my contemplation of the interconnection of humanity and our greater reality as we move through space and time. In several of my favorite stories, part of their appeal was discovering how the consequences of one's actions sometimes are not what were envisioned when initial choices were made.

In Vanessa Fogg's story "Snow's Daughter," Arra looks back at her choices with doubt. In Aaron Zimmerman's story "Healer" Tayo comes to recognize that "a thousand choices across thousands of generations [were] always completely and disastrously wrong." These are among the many thought provoking stories in "Passages" that helped expand my worldview.

In Scott Barnes' story "You Can Catch Almost Anything-A Cantrip," Vihaan's difficult quest was inspirational. He not only tested himself but also helped Sparkle, the homa bird, as well as the lemurs. In Delaney Green's story "Sá An Bhrú, The Passage Home," Dara not only refused to kill the drugged deer presented to him by the priest, but was actually willing to ritually sacrifice himself to ensure that his father's soul would accompany his god in the afterlife. Contemplating the positive or negative choices and deeds of characters in the many captivating stories in "Passages" not only enriched the stories, but also provided worthwhile insights relevant to our own real world circumstances and decision-making processes.

I especially enjoyed the change of heart in the relationship between Jake and Wart in Bob Sojka's story "Don't Forget." The story was fun, in part because of the dialect that had evolved since the Shatter Flood, but more importantly because of the perseverance of the survivors and the reinterpretation of their assumed reality following the discoveries made by Jake, Missy, Tom and Wart. The enlightenment rekindled hope for the future and escape from the Dark Age into which they had descended through no fault of their own. The ritual of story-telling in this piece was essential to the development of the clan's young "mutts" who had become disciples of Jake, their aging leader. He taught them to revere knowledge and that cooperation, teamwork and mutual respect were keys to survival. The way Jake's people collaborated to overcome hardship reminded me that community is everywhere. We need to embrace our world community, never forget the hard-learned lessons of the past, listen to all the voices who contribute to enhancing humanity's story and cultivate the optimism that allows us to accomplish the impossible, time and time again.

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