“A Dog of Wu,” by Ted Rabinowitz, is a novelet set in the future following the collapse of the society we know and the formation of another… a society shaped by eugenics and absolute control over everyone beneath The Wu, control by both training and by chemical influence. In the story there are two groups of humans: “feral humans” who haven’t engaged in strict gene manipulation and genetic lines (cloning?), and Followers Of The Way who are constrained in pretty much every aspect of their lives, including whether they are even allowed to live or not. The protagonist, who serves The Wu, is sent on a mission to track down and retrieve an item, but finds himself in embroiled in a much larger and more difficult situation.
“A Dog of Wu” is very well written, and a protagonist who seems distant at first soon becomes extremely familiar and human as he grapples with new knowledge of the world and his place in it. Forced into realizations he doesn’t want and never asked for, by the end of the story his life is profoundly changed… and yet isn’t. He faces choices, yet doesn’t take them. In a story about the inevitable change of humanity and society he’s caught in inertia.
Like the best SFF, “A Dog of Wu” looks at the human condition.