Carolyn Ives Gilman
Umbernight Cover



Multiple Hugo and Nebula finalist Gilman is one of those authors like Ted Chiang: not terribly prolific, but every story by her is a gem. I've seen several people recommend this story, and I'm going to add my voice to theirs.

This is a story about a scientist/cartographer in a human settlement on a distant planet. The newly-arrived colony was nearly killed off by unexpected hostile conditions, but managed to survive. A few generations have passed, but the third-and-last supply ship (dispatched via solar sail by their ancestors before departing to colonize the planet) is scheduled to arrive soon. But the dangerous season, which lasts for years, is almost upon them -- and they have to decide whether to risk an expedition before retreating to the safety of their caves, or to wait for years to retrieve what may be essential supplies for them.

The author creates a plausible, tangible vision of a world, with vividly alien lifeforms, and heartbreakingly human characters.