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The Euonymist
Neil Williamson
Infinity Plus, 13 pages

The Euonymist
Neil Williamson
Neil Williamson is a writer and musician, based in Glasgow, Scotland.

Neil Williamson Website
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A review by Sandra Scholes

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Science fiction and fantasy are such narrow terms for what can be accomplished in these genres of writing, and The Euonymist is as broad as one can imagine. It will remind those who have read Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea saga about the Rule of Names that featured in it. This story is very similar, except set in a future time beyond that of Le Guin's. Originally appearing in Electric Velocipede #9 in the Fall of 2005, where Calum is set the unenviable task of naming newly discovered planets. Calum is what is known in the field as a Euonymist, as a planet namer, but it isn't as easy as others think, certainly not his uncle or his wife. It is more difficult than that, and he spends most of the plot trying his best to think of these names for something that is sometimes beyond him.

He knows his family hold him in high esteem, but at times he really can't think of any names for some of the simplest looking things, and isn't at all convinced at a family gathering that he's named his own daughter properly as Ellen. He seems to want a distraction from his difficult work. His family provide it in the form of a new species of plant life that is growing in his garden back home. Calum is convinced that it is no ordinary plant, not when it looks so unusual he has to call in the folks from work and have them take a look at it. This isn't the homecoming he expected, but the plant has to be contained and quarantined for inspection as they have no idea what it really is -- only that Calum believes he might have brought it back from a lone planet they had been investigating called Ghessareen. If that is true, then Calum and his family might be in for a shock -- if not, Calum has some new naming to do.

It won't be easy for him though, not when he is too used to naming planets -- from planets to plants, that's a different kind of thing in itself.

It isn't so much a science fiction story. It's more about a man who has an important job to do that everyone thinks is great, apart from him. His family adore him for being a space explorer and he seems to have a good relationship with them when he returns from his long missions. But when he comes back this time, he has enough time to think of his career, his job and finds that it doesn't impress him as much as it used to. The naming of names is limited to what he can read in the Lexicon and nothing more and he sees how family life is more beneficial to him than being away for so long without them for company. He has responsibilities at home anyway, a wife and daughter to love and care for. Readers will get the impression he truly misses being at home with his more than grounded Scots family, and they will also laugh out loud when it comes to his naming the plant.

Copyright © 2012 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes believes that everyone is a mixture of optimist and pessimist; the glass can be either half empty or half full depending on your personality at that time. In other news her work can be seen in the British Fantasy Society newsletter, on Active Anime and Fantasy Book Review.


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