The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Pilgrimage: The Book of the People and The People: No Different Flesh form a chronicle of a number of the People, extraterrestrials living on Earth as refugees after the destruction of their own planet, the Home. Highly developed and psionically gifted, the People must conceal their differences in order to live among “Earthers” without attracting attention, yet they cannot let go of their true nature and abilities. Each book is composed of short stories loosely linked by a framing story. The stories originally were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction between 1952 and 1966.

Pilgrimage begins with the story of Lea, a deeply depressed woman who is found by Karen, one of the People. Karen prevents Lea’s suicide and takes on the responsibility of reintroducing Lea to wonder in an attempt to help her defeat depression. Lea is included in a series of gatherings of the People at which the past is “Assembled,” or told as stories, and recorded for posterity. The stories are primarily of the Ingathering: the search by the Cougar Canyon Group for others of the People and the gravitation of the lost People, of Blends (People-Earth half-breeds), and of gifted Earthers to the Group.

In “Ararat,” the first People story published (1952), Karen tells of the coincidental finding of the Group by Valancy, the competent but unremarkable teacher sent to teach the bright but disturbing children of Cougar Canyon. Valancy turns out to be one of the People. “Gilead” is the story of two Blends, Peter and his sister Bethie, who set out to find the Group after the deaths of their parents. They have only the general impression of a direction given by their mother before she died. “Pottage” tells of Karen’s Outsider friend Melodye who, upon arriving in Bendo to teach school, discovers another Group, fearful,...

(The entire section is 770 words.)