|"Though the Heavens Fall"|
|Series||A Different Flesh|
|Publication date||September 1986|
|Preceded by||"The Iron Elephant"|
|Followed by||"Trapping Run"|
"Though the Heavens Fall" (originally published in Analog, September 1986) is the fifth story chronologically in A Different Flesh. Set in Virginia in 1804, the story presents a twist on the Dred Scott case, as an African-American house-slave named Jeremiah goes on trial for running away, and his attorney presents the argument that with sims, there is no reason for one subset of human beings to enslave another.
The story is probably one of the more complex ethically in the collection. Though a slave, Jeremiah can still look down upon the sims and know he is a man, until he is moved from his normal domestic chores out to the field. Only then does he appreciate just how low his position in society really is. Even after he wins his freedom, he is reluctant to treat the sims as anything but inferior, confident that their lesser intelligence will always keep them that way.
The story also gives us the fullest glimpse into the laws and structure of the Federated Commonwealths of America, which adopts more aspects of the Roman Republic than the United States of America ever has. We learn that there are two Censors who lead the executive branch, a Popular Assembly, and a Senate. The Censors have the ability to veto one another, and serve for five years. Senators are former Censors and Commonwealth Governors who enter the Senate for life after their terms in the other offices expire.