Traditions, by Michael J. Sullivan

Traditions by Michael J. Sullivan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What a curious coincidence! Immediately after finishing “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” I picked up “Traditions”.

Written in Michael’s world of Elan, it features Annie, a girl who’s about to be sacrificed to a monster for the continued well-being of her village.
Presented by her boyfriend with an opportunity to flee together, she rejects his plan but decides not to play by the age-old rules but to try and determine her own fate.

Thus, she walks up to the lair of the monster and confronts it. The monster, an old, basically invalid dragon tries to talk her out of killing him by presenting the possible catastrophic consequences if it becomes known that the dragon “protecting” the village is gone. That all the sacrifices for a very long time have been for nought.

In contrast to the people of Omelas, Annie decides not to play by the rules: She does not accept the potential consequences as a given. She does not sacrifice herself for the greater good.

Instead, she changes the rules and when she leaves the cave, a new dawn is rising. Let’s not accept rules just because they are rules. Let us question the rules, let us change them together instead of complacently accepting the torment of others.

Let us also not become complicit as Le Guin in Omelas by stating “rules are rules”. We make the damn rules and, if need be, we can bend or even break them.

Three out of five stars.

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