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The Cytherean War #4: Cytherea at Night

Sam Cameron-McKee lives in Adelaide South Australia with his partner Veronica. He graduated from the University of South Australia with a Bachelor of Creative Writing and Linguistics and is currently completing his honors study in Creative Writing and Cultural studies. He has been writing fantasy and science fiction for many years, and considers his inspirations to be Ursula K. Le Guin and Kim Stanley Robinson. When Sam isn't writing he spends his time listening to progressive rock or watering his garden.

Jenzi wondered if she was the last one left alive on Cytherea.
She had been born here, so never thought of it as Venus, even subconsciously. Her parents had
called it that occasionally, but now they were dead. As was everyone else in the city of Nova-Hellena.
It floated through the poison atmosphere, on nano-weave balloons of oxygen and was quiet.
It was night now, and had been for the past fifty-seven standard days. Though for Jenzi it had felt like night since the war had started, eight years ago.
Usually, with the city's generators disabled, it would be freezing this high in the atmosphere, but there were still firestorms burning below.
The missiles still fell occasionally.
Jenzi liked the night time. It let her see the lights of the distant ships of the Earthen colonials, coming down to survey the craters they had made and look for resources. They had heat and food, and shelter. Everything Jenzi did not.
Jenzi did not hate the distant people, she was only hungry, and sad. She knew the people in the distant ships had killed everyone she had ever known, but she wanted to join them all the same.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, September 5th, 2019

Author Comments

I wrote "The Cytherean War" with the intention of creating a military science-fiction story told from a different perspective. In my experience, military sci-fi tends to focus on front-line soldiers, weapons-developing scientists, high-ranking generals, or other characters who are connected to a traditional military structure. I feel that this is a mischaracterization of what war looks like in the modern day, let alone the future. I wanted to write a military sci-fi story that captured modern warfare more fully.

I opened with the perspective of a bystander, I feel it is important to remember that most "normal" people don't want war at all. A diplomat turned terrorist was a challenge to write without becoming melodramatic but I wanted to explore what could be considered a "justified" extremist. Morty--the cowardly mathematician--is an exploration of the warfare of drones and UAVs, in which soldiers are redundant and operators need not even see their targets. Finally, regardless of whether the Cythereans or the People of Earth were correct, I feel the true victims of war are always non-combatants, and I tried to convey the true helplessness of someone in this situation in "Cytherea at Night."

I chose to utilize a near-future setting devoid of any true "hyper science" such as FTL in order to preserve the gravity of the story and to keep the focus of the narrative on the conflict rather than the technology.

- Sam Cameron-McKee
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