‘What are those?’ while pointing at Fosse’s shoes.
‘Shoes,’ he said, very clearly, as if talking to a young child.
‘I thought they were regulation standard military Coalition issued walking apparel,’ it said.
It was strange how being more precise with language could move everyone further away from a mutual level of understanding.
This is a seriously weird, in the true sense of the word, dream-like short novel. At just 157 pages, Aliya Whiteley’s Skyward Inn is the sort of book your university literature professors warn you of – “Beware the short book”. Dense with meaning and meandering through time and place, the only thing that anchors it is Skyward Inn. Which, in itself, turns out not to be quite as it seemed either.
The Kissing Gate opened up a couple of decades ago, a sort of Stargate portal connecting the sky over Swansea (U.K.) to Qita, a planet far away, with life forms that are a little like us, but also not at all like us.
Using the payout from a 10-year contract on Qita, Jem (human) her friend Isley (Qitan) opened the Skyward Inn, a pub in a small village. The Western Protectorate has cut themselves off from the rest of the U.K., rejecting modern technology – and the Qitans (except Isley) – and choosing the live in simple farming communities.
Jem and Isley serve up diluted Jarrowbrew, a Qitan speciality, to the locals. After closing each night, Isley serves pure Jarrowbrew to Jem. He enjoys listening to her stories of her time on Qita; stories which are pulled into sharp focus by the Jarrowbrew.
When another Qitan is found in the Western Protectorate, the Skyward Inn provides shelter. But her arrival and the slow advance of the quarantines will change everything forever.
This is the kind of novel you probably need to read several times, talk to others about, and write serious essays on, in order to truly appreciate it fully.
I really enjoyed it because it presented such a very different possibility of what life beyond our world might be like. At the same time it presents food for thought about our Earth-bound lives, particularly in our times. What does ‘war’ look like? Is colonisation only a physical defeat, or can it be more, or less, or just different?
If you enjoy Claire G. Coleman’s novels you’ll love Skyward Inn.
I’ll leave you with this quote, which I think is relevant to us all:
But then it occurred to him that it had only seemed easy from the outside, not knowing how it was achieved. He simply hadn’t understood that aspect of the guide’s life, along with so much else of it.