Review of Rich Rurshell’s Short Story “Subject: Galilee”

world war 4

© James Pyles

I’m continuing my slow review of the stories in the Zombie Pirate Publishing SciFi anthology World War Four (which also features my short story “Joey,” but right now, that’s beside the point). Today, I highlight Rich Rurshell’s tale “Subject: Galilee.”

Much of the symbolism echoes Christian themes, but Rurshell’s story takes place in the far future. A war is raging between two corporate factions, Liberty West which uses robotic warriors called “Romans,” and Zhang Industries’ human combatants. In between them and a village of peaceful people as well as defected soldiers, is the mysterious armored and cloaked being known as Galilee. He came out of no where, possesses enormous, almost god-like abilities, reprogramming the Roman machines to serve him, his armor all but invulnerable, and seems to be the savior that the world needs, that is until both corporations decide to make him a target.

Although Galilee has added more refugees to the villagers’ ranks and surrounded the community with a force field, he must endure a massive assault that rends his armor and maims him. Amazingly, he survives, but just barely, concealing his shattered torso in a Roman robot shell. Even then, he is finally defeated as he begins to reveal his true nature to Jana, one of his human allies.

As it turns out, humanity’s mythology of “gods,” including, apparently, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic monotheism, is based on a race of super-aliens who cloned replicas of themselves to colonize our planet, along with many others, thousands of years past, all in an effort to raise an army of soldiers to battle in their own galactic war.

Galilee, once their creation and servant, evolved to be come an instrument of defense for the peaceful and the innocent, ironically by replicating himself into the final tool of war. In the end, the defeats the warring corporations, dismantles their ability to aggressively assault the innocents, and their leaders are borne away heaven-ward in Galilee’s (he’s actually a series of clones himself) ships. He then leaves the Earth in total, final peace.

This is a story that, in one way or another, has been told time and again, an alien savior-being bringing peace to warring humans. This was “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry’s favorite theme and it worked out pretty well for him over the years.

The tropes were relatively transparent. Corporations are the bad guy, the innocent villagers are the good guys, and once the corporations are destroyed, there is no remaining motivation for war, greed, or hostility. The happy ending is based on the suppositions that organizations are evil but individuals are not. It doesn’t take into consideration that humanity’s nature might actually be the root source of those things and actions we consider antithetical to peace.

In Jewish and Christian thought, the Messiah-figure will come (or return), wage a war against all those who oppose Israel (or the Church) and establish an everlasting reign of peace. In this, both the Messiah and Galilee are in unison (more or less). The point of departure is that in religious thought, the Messiah will remain as overarching King of the World, ruling from a central location (most likely Jerusalem), while Galilee took off leaving humans to fend for themselves, assuming they would remain peaceful forever.

It might have been more interesting if Galilee had left one or more of his incarnations in place to benignly rule, which would necessitate an army or global police force to keep the peace. It would then have to occur to at least some of the humans across the world, if they have been liberated or simply put in yet another gilded cage.

2 thoughts on “Review of Rich Rurshell’s Short Story “Subject: Galilee”

  1. I don’t suppose this story offered any explanation for the distinction between the greedy selfish humans of the corporations and the benign impoverished villagers who are ultimately left behind to work out their own methods of self-rule? Your description suggests to me a rather irrational naiveté on the author’s part vis-à-vis human nature. Roddenberry also appeared to suffer a similar something of the same fault.


    • The source of human greed is always humans,. so unless Earth remains at a fairly primitive level, people are going to start building stores, commerce, conglomerations, and such, and without a benign Messiah King to guide the nations, they’ll fall back into the same trap.


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