"Light and the Sufferer" by Jonathan Lethem, initially published in the March/April 1995 issue of Century #1

  1. Like most of the stories in our two anthologies, Lethem's alludes to a number of other popular texts or popular culture situations. How many can you identify as at work in this story?
  2. Although there are aliens in "Light and the Sufferer," I doubt that most readers would call this a pure SF story. How does the presence of aliens impact the story's conflict and our response to the story? Do you see any similarities between these aliens and the angels in Ted Chiang's "Hell is the Absence of God"?
  3. How would you characterize the aliens called sufferers?
  4. What social or cultural issues does Lethem investigate? Is he engaging in some kind of cultural critique? If so, what is his point?