Ingathering by Zenna Henderson

Ingathering coverIngathering tells the stories of the People, from their arrival as refugees in the southwestern US until the choice, generations later, to join their kind on a colonised planet or claim Earth as their home. The People have a painful past on Earth, persecuted at first for their differences (they have a number of powers, both general–like flying–and individual–like the ability to draw another’s pain into oneself) and isolated in scattered communities more recently. However, the stories are presented as told to outsiders, and demonstrate that often the People have found ways to build positive relationships with their human neighbours. Those connected to others like themselves (the title refers in part to the gradual ingathering of the refugees and their descendants into communities) frequently do best in this regard: having found a place of belonging, they are better able to reach out to others.

This collection brings together stories previously published in Henderson’s Pilgrimage (1961) and The People: No Different Flesh (1967), as well as a handful of others that had appeared elsewhere, and makes readily available a body of work that had become rare. Though the world in which they live is familiar enough (at least, as familiar as the American southwest in the 1960s is to the reader), Henderson does an excellent job of creating a people with its own rich history and culture. The sense of otherness and the hope of community combine to make this a compelling read for anyone who has felt alone.

Check out a review by Jo Walton!

And another from a very different perspective. The presentation is dated and the review is very long, but the analysis is frequently insightful.

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