Hmm, science fiction plus Amish. Future speculation versus anachronism.
At first when I found out about Pennsylvania by Michael Bunker, I naturally assumed it had to be a satire; a poor man’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or something like that. How can a work of science fiction incorporate a people known, by religious ideology, to shun some technological advancement? So what I expected when I started reading and what it turned out to be were two different things.
Michael spins a great yarn in Pennsylvania. Jed is the name of the protagonist in the story, a young Amish man that is destined for great things. His great thing is moving to New Pennsylvania, a foreign, alien world with as much promise as the foreign land his forefathers inhabited when settling in America. New Pennsylvania is the utopia, the land flowing with milk and honey. But as young Jed finds out, things are not always what they seem, especially in New Pennsylvania.
It’s interesting to see how Michael relates Jed’s experiences to the reader. A wide-eyed, innocent Amish boy swept up in a world that is foreign to his comprehension. His reactions to situations carry the story along nicely and makes for an entertaining read. Many stories I read, especially Sci-Fi, typically contain one or two items that puts me off from the larger narrative, either religiously, morally, or ideologically. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that. That’s the beauty of stories, that expression of varied ideas. What I’m saying is that it’s not often I read a story that I can so easily embrace. Pennsylvania is one of those few stories. There’s no cursing (it is an Amish protagonist, after all) and no sexual situations. To me, it’s the type of story that would fit well with younger adults and children, yet it’s not necessarily young adult literature.
Plus, the cover is great. I mean, a horse and buggy with an ICBM (I think) launching in the background. You can’t beat that.
Luckily I came across this short story on the heels of Michael releasing the second part to his story, Pennsylvania 2: Non-electric Boogaloo. This means that I don’t have to wait long before I can indulge myself in the continuing journey of Jed and his companions. I’m sure the quality of the next installment will equal the quality of the first.