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The People of Pele (short story)

Last modified: 2014-12-27 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: the people of pele | liu (ken) | united states | fifty-four |
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The People of Pele is a science fiction short story by Chinese-American writer Ken Liu, published in the February 2012 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction 36:2 (=433), on p. 46-57.

The story is about a near-c pioneer colonist space ship sent by the United States government off to an inhabitable planet in the 61 Virginis system. The planet is named Pele, after the Hawaiian volcano deity. The trip takes 60 years by Earth's time frame and much less by on-ship clock, due to relativistic time dilation, and suspended animation renders even that unnoticeable to the crew of settlers. No dates are given but plot details suggests that mission start time lies around the mid 21st century.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 12 February 2012

Flag of the United States

[54 stars and 13 stripes]
image by António Martins-Tuválkin and Joe MicMillan, 12 February 2012

A scene on first footfall on Pele shows as the mission leader unfurled the flag. … The red and white stripes and fifty-four stars flew over the alien landscape. The number of stripes is unspecified, so we can assume the current, unchanged thirteen; also no details on the star pattern, but a rank-and-file arrangement of six rows and nine columns is the most parsimonious. Apart from the quoted sentence, the story has no other mention about the flag nor about its overall significance in terms of geopolitics — although 54 stars corresponding to 54 US states can to be assumed with some certainty.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 12 February 2012