The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Sandkings is a collection of seven wildly imaginative stories about the future, all published originally between 1976 and 1979 in various periodicals and anthologies. The title story describes armies of antlike creatures kept as pets by a decadent multimillionaire who enjoys being worshipped as their god and making them wage wars. Eventually the disillusioned sandkings turn against their sadistic god, with horrible consequences.

“The Way of Cross and Dragon” describes the Catholic church’s ongoing battle with heresy in the far distant future. A group calling themselves the Liars preaches the sainthood of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ. Father Damien, High Inquisitor of the One True Interstellar Church, is almost converted to the heresy when a spokesman for the Liars explains that truth is cold and frightening but lies are often warm and beautiful.

“Bitterblooms” is set in a frozen land during “deepwinter,” a season that lasts for many years. A young girl named Shawn is held captive in an ice palace by a lesbian lover but finally escapes, returns to her native Carinhall, and has nine children by a number of different men. In her old age, she is forced to flee Carinhall during another deepwinter because food is scarce and it is the custom to throw old people out into the snow to die.

“In the House of the Worm” describes Earth in the far distant future, when the dying Sun looks like a hot...

(The entire section is 532 words.)