A Christmas Greeting from an Orthospherean

Commenter Roger G sends along a greeting to the whole orthosphere:

Christmas almost being upon us, again I am reminded of a science fiction short story that I read long ago, and still find particularly moving. In a recent email exchange with Tom I sent him the summary below, and asked if he recalled the author and title.  He did not, but maybe someone else out there will.

The protagonist is captain of an enormous alien ship. His race learned of their world’s coming destruction in time to build the vessel, and escaped to search the galaxy for a new home.  Initially they had seen the journey as a great adventure, but having long failed to find a suitable planet for themselves, they have become despondent.

They discover what turns out to be Earth, and view it at first with great hope. The ship is placed in a geosynchronous parking orbit, and the captain leads a patrol down to conduct sustainability tests.  To their despair, they determine conditions on Earth to be unsuitable.

They come upon a scene that turns out to be the Nativity. Mary, being who she is, knows who they are without requiring explanation, and comprehends their plight.  She tells them that God has in fact sent them as a sign of man’s deliverance, and that just as He is giving humanity a Savior, so likewise will He provide for them.

As to the sign, their orbiting ship is the Star of Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas to you all!

3 thoughts on “A Christmas Greeting from an Orthospherean

  1. Pingback: A Christmas Greeting from an Orthospherean | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: A Christmas Greeting from an Orthospherean | Reaction Times

  3. Here’s another Christmas story that I heard from the source.

    On Christmas Eve, 1974, Severe Tropical Cyclone Tracy approached Darwin in the Northern Territory, the northernmost capital city of Australia. Tracy was small (the radius of destructive winds being only about 50km) but intense. Her central pressure was 950mb, which is close to the mean for tropical cyclones, but because she was so compact, her pressure gradient was about 5.5mb/km, which is unusually high.

    I had been in Darwin at Christmas as a teenager in 1966, and although there had been a population boom since then, the spirit of the place was unchanged. Darwin was a tropical frontier town, and Christmas was more bacchanalian than devotional. Enormous quantities of grog and rich food were consumed, with a strong emphasis on seafood, as is the case now in most of Australia for our high summer festivities. That Christmas Eve, as always, fridges and freezers were chock-a-block, and the drinking had been underway since midday.

    The first tropical cyclone alert had been issued at 4pm on the 21st; at 12.30pm on Christmas Eve, a top priority Flash Cyclone Warning was issued, warning of Tracy’s expected landfall in the early hours of Christmas Day. It had been almost 40 years since Darwin had been hit by a big cyclone, and it’s probably fair to say that revellers paid insufficient attention.

    Wind gusts of over 100km/hr reached Darwin by midnight. By the time the eye passed over the city at 3am, much of the city lay in ruins; when the gales resumed from the opposite direction, much of what remained was flattened. The anemometer at Darwin airport recorded a gust of 217km/hr before Tracy destroyed it. After 6am the winds began to abate.

    Years later I met a woman who, I believe, was of Anglo-Celtic stock. In 1974 she was married to a Greek man and was living in Darwin with her young children. Her old man was involved in book-making, and was out and about on Christmas Eve, leaving K at home with the kids. She heard the warnings and made what preparations she could. As the winds intensified, the family huddled in a central corridor of the house as it rattled and rocked. The roof peeled off, and K decided to get out with the kids.

    They made their way downstairs and into the 4-wheel drive. Pieces of roofing iron and walls, tree branches, broken glass and all the detritus of a disintegrating environment were being hurled through the blinding torrential rain on the force of the gale. Into this banshee K drove that Christmas morning, her visibility virtually nil, looking for substantial shelter.

    Then she saw the light. Someone was out in the gale, ahead of her, with a bright light. The emergency services were out helping people like her! She followed. She was led for some distance, then up a broad set of concrete stairs, and found herself among the buildings of a local high school. She drove under one of the buildings into shelter. She got out to thank her rescuer. Of course, there was no-one there.

    Tracy claimed 49 lives in the city, and 16 were lost at sea.

    This is one of the stories that led me back to Christ. The light of Christmas morning shines bright indeed.

    A very happy and blessed Christmas to you all. If you are waiting for the Feast of the Nativity, I’ll join you again then.


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