Equally touching, tender, and socially exploratory, A Rarefied View At Dawn by David Farland is a short story that takes place in the far future on a planet far from here.
Men and women are segregated by gender and on the mountain top fortress of Kara Kune most births are controlled, allowing only females to be born. But not always. Bann is a boy, but until he begins to approach puberty he doesn’t realize that there are any differences between himself and the others around him, including his best friend Maya. Only then does his mother take him on a journey that will change his view of everything.
The story begins high on a mountain above thick heavy mists and clouds over a low, sweaty jungle, and as the story progresses the reader literally and figuratively descends with Bann and Maya from the heights of innocence. It’s a dystopian society, and Farland’s short tale is a curious exploration at what happens when trends are taken to the extreme.
What is most interesting, though, might be Farland’s notes to the story. He tells a personal story about young woman who bounced from destructive relationship to destructive relationship, and his desire to examine what he sees as a societal trend towards the abandonment of young men and his interest in what happens if we allow these trends to cycle out of control.
The end result is a society that is, to say the least, distressing and destructive, hardly the kind that any of us would want. But that’s exactly what fiction is supposed to do: to hold up a mirror to our own world and ask what will happen if we continue down the current path. Farland does it well here, and I laud the effort, despite its conclusion.