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|Ingathering: The Complete People Stories of Zenna Henderson
by Zenna Henderson
Published by NESFA Press, 1995
Highly recommended by: Ross Pavlac
Low key, powerful tales of a group of aliens stranded on Earth who are trying to live their lives in a peaceful valley and not bother anyone and not be bothered by anyone.
Zenna Henderson (born 1917, died 1983) is virtually unknown aside from her "People" stories which were written and published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction during the 50s and 60s. In the 60s her "People" stories were compiled and published in two volumes: Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (Doubleday, 1961) and The People: No Different Flesh (Doubleday, 1966). After her death, in 1995 the New England Science Fiction Association published Ingathering: The Complete People Stories of Zenna Henderson, which includes all the "People" stories.
This anthology tells the story of a species of humanoids who flee their own dying planet and crash into earth. Those who survived might easily have assimilated into the communities near where they crashed except that various members of the survivors had unusual gifts, including telepathy, levitation, and the ability to heal. Each story relates a different experience of interaction between earthlings and the "People." Some are quite sad, revealing man's worst nature concerning bigotry and the fear of anything different or unknown. All the stories, however, are filled with a hope that inspires the reader to desire to be more like the "People."
Whether or not Ingathering: The Complete People Stories should be classified as "Christian" is debatable. Zenna Henderson grew up as a Mormon, some accounts suggest that as an adult she left the LDS church and became a Methodist. Others say that as she grew older she attended charismatic churches. Regardless of her personal faith, her stories are about a people who worship a God quite similar to Jehovah and who live according to the golden rule.
I can state without reservation that is the absolute best anthology I have ever read. Often anthologies receive high praise because they contain one or two excellent stories. Every story in Ingathering: The Complete People Stories, is above average and many excel in excellence. As a group, they paint a picture of an unforgettable society that I sincerely wish was not merely fiction. Bob Blackman (August, 2006)
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