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Conversation Pieces


Vol. 31 — The Last Letter: A Novella

by Fiona Lehn

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a Locus-recommended book

   The islanders wanted predators shipped in, they wanted bug bombs and pesticides. I reminded them that their overuse of pesticides over the past decade was one of the things that had gotten them into this mess in the first place, killing off beneficial insects and losing their web worm predators in the process.
   "Then spray the worms,” someone shouted.
   "Spray them with what?" I said. "After completing my preliminary tests, I can tell you that the web worms have developed a resistance to insecticides, viruses, and funghi. Even the parasites they host have no significant effect upon them. You have bred some very resilient web worms here. So we must control them another way. But this will take more than a season, so again I ask for your patience—"
   "We've waited long enough already. Those worms have devoured half the forest."
   "What will they eat when they run out of trees?"

On Island SG7, one voracious parasite endangers a protected forest and a small community. But the biologist hired to bring the place into balance is already compromised—by a too-narrow view of her duties, and—increasingly—by a love she cannot ignore.

This is the love letter of Peta Sutton, who struggles to perceive the full complexities of her place in a foreign ecosystem and an extramarital relationship. As the island roils and the parasites seem to drag people's worst fears into being, Peta struggles to forge a peace at the heart of fears that threaten to consume everything.

Reviews

"This story of a biologist's attempt to stop the advance of a strange and voracious parasite in a protected forest perfectly balances the personal and the scientific, working as both a character study and a fascinatingly odd encounter with a foreign ecosystem. As always, Aqueduct Press has done a lovely job of bringing another new author to readers."
—Jeff VanderMeer, Omnivoracious, December, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-933500-86-7 (13 digit)
Publication Date: 2011
paperback 116 pages