A Dog of Wu by Ted Rabinowitz

“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…

Deep Sea Fish by Chi Hui

“Deep Sea Fish,” by Chi Hui (translated by Brian Bies) is a novelet from the March/April 2018 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. At its core, it’s a story about what it means to be human, and what it means to reach for the stars. Many of us SFF nerds grew up familiar with “The Martian Chronicles;” stories about the inhabitants of other planets interacting with, or being discovered long dead by, humans are a staple of SFF. “Deep Sea Fish” features a galaxy spanning civilization (not carbon based!) that has flourished on other planets and then vanished. Human archeologists studying ancient alien artifacts and remains are absolutely a strongly present theme in this genre, and in “Deep Sea Fish” there’s a group that’s moving quickly to study an area of interest on Titan before a company comes in to terraform the area, and melt it all… as opposed to coming in to build a new high way or condo and bulldozing it all.. The science in this novelet is a little bit shaky, one of the things where you just have to nod and enjoy the substance of the story and the themes it contains. What…

“Angel of the Blockade” by Alex Wells
2017 Publication , Novelet , Tor / January 6, 2018

“Angel of the Blockade” is a novelette by Alex Wells, published on Tor in September of 2017. The thing you need to know about Alex Wells is that they’re a huge freaking nerd. And when you have a nerd who’s immersed in nerd culture in deep, pervasive ways they can either be really entitled creeps, or they can create magic. Wells absolutely creates magic. “Angel of the Blockade” picks up a lot of really classic science fiction tropes– a hard bitten cynic with a heart of gold smuggler who also has an actual history and character beyond that; a pilot who interacts with the world in ways most people can’t (tasting solar winds, for example); pilgrim refugees persecuted because of religion and driven to find a new planet home; the idea of home in general. Wells takes this, and they turn it into something that feels new and unique, something personal. Nata, the protagonist, was raised and nurtured by her aunt after the tragic death of her parents… and their death IS tragic and is more than just emotional manipulation, and profoundly shaped who she is and how she does what she does and why. A freighter pilot and smuggler,…

“Attachments” by Kate Wilhelm

“Attachments,” by Kate Wilhelm, is the opening story in the Nov/Dec 2017 issues of “Fantasy and Science Fiction,” which is one of my favorite magazines. According to the novelet’s introduction, Wilhelm’s first story in F&SF was in 1962. She’s an established, experienced writer and it really shows in this piece. “Attachments” opens with a a young woman in a creepy/picturesque ruin in England. We soon see that she’s from the USA and that she’s there with a friend… and also that something is horrifically wrong. As the story unfolds we see that it’s a ghost story, both literally and figuratively. Drew, the protagonist, has 2 ghosts attached to her who want her to do things for them; Drew’s abusive ex boyfriend lurks in the background, a constant threat to her both mentally and physically. Drew has to figure out how to deal with the ghosts on her back, how to solve their problems, and then how to solve the problems in her own life. It’s a well written story. Drew is interesting and we get glimpses of her life, both current and past. The ghosts’ plan is flawed, but desperate plans often are. She, and they, need to be creative…