‘A Habitable Place’ by Jacquelyn Bengfort

— Reneé Bibby

Did you stare up at the eclipse this week to marvel at the cosmos? Even in locations outside the path of totality the eerie light was enough to alert the astute of a cosmic phenomenon—but, before anything seismic could shift, the moon spun back to usual orbit and we were left with the workaday light. Were you bereft? Jacquelyn Bengfort’s ‘A Habitable Planet’ can be your post-eclipse depression pick me up. Told in quick, focused segments of dialogue and introspection, Bengfort’s story about a couple preparing to colonize a distant habitable planet extrapolates our future abilities to cross space. In a universe where humans can do more than stare up at the sky with paper eclipse-glasses, what might we create? Bengfort has some ideas, a wry take on our ambitions and aspirations to transform into an ideal society. It could be that we bungle the effort—that humans will pack up all our problems and travel with them, but perhaps, as Bengfort allows, we will pack the best of ourselves, all our little joys. Either way—two minutes of an eclipse, years in transit to a new planet—it’s worth it.

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