When I read the synopsis, I was instantly intrigued by the premise of this short story and the content did not disappoint. Despite the brevity of the story, the beginnings of character depth are present. The story idea is tinged with the familiar but also unique enough to catch the reader off guard. The prose is rich, mature, and varied. The imagery is beautiful.

I finished the story and was left yearning for more: a desire to see the characters overcome challenges and grow, a need to know what happens next, and curiosity about why certain things happened.

I would love to see this short story fleshed out into a full novel, as it seems to have such potential to make a big emotional impact and to cause some serious self-examination of the human race's weaknesses (and potential strengths). A very enjoyable read, for sure!


Becky Chen works with a broken heart. She wears a surveyor’s uniform, sent by the lottery offices to scout for habitable planets capable of providing a new home for Earth’s masses. It’s a job she does not love, for she knows that the settlers who follow in her trail will trample whatever splendor she discovers in those stars.

Winston Clayton prays for a chance to ascend into the heavens. He calls the stale and stinking air of a housing stack home, and he anxiously waits each month to hear if the lottery chooses his apartment tower as the next winning stack to be transported to a new world of fresh air and uncluttered fields.

Mary Lopez rides a shuddering settler’s rig down through the atmosphere of Wildberry. She knows she is a prosperous person, and that the planets are reserved for independent and strong characters such as herself. The lottery has supplied her with shelter and with tools, and Mary is confident that the weapon she smuggles into the contest will give her the advantage needed to survive and thrive.

The pulsating creatures native to an alien world will become swept up in the schemes of the affluent and the fights of the desperate. Their wings can supply any desired scene to those settlers arriving upon Wildberry, if only the men and women who chase to that new, alien world can recognize the grace already occupying their new home.

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