“What is Mother?” Papa would say. “She took us up when our world failed. She is our protection and our home. We are her helpers and beloved children.” Papa help up a finger, peering at them with eyes almost lost in the wrinkles of his face. “We make sure Her machinery runs smoothy. Without us, she cannot live. We only live if Mother lives.”
It’s hard to say whether we’re dealing with passengers on a sort of bio-technological ship, or an anthropomorphized interpretation of something more recognizably earthly, like parasites living inside a host. I’m leaning toward option one, since the description on the back of the book says this story’s about “a biological ark in the far future.” Yeah, I guess that settles that. The point is, maybe, that the systems at work here are not so alien that we don’t recognize the insectish parts, or the host-parasite bits. Mother isn’t a man-made ship like Mother from Alien, but she’s still a ship. This is the title track, so it makes sense that “Jagganath” is the most daring and alluring story in this collection. Real grim, self-contained sci-fi.