Aliette de Bodard. The Jaguar House, in Shadow. (Asimov’s, July 2010)

Part of AdB’s ‘Xuya’ alternate history sequence, of which you can find more about on her website, but suffice to say the conceit is that North America is shared by China and the Aztecs.

The alternate history is played down here, and sfnal elements limited to brief mention of emergent AI’s in America. The crux of the story is how three colleagues have grown apart over the years, as each takes decisions based on where they draw the line as to what is acceptable in taking forward the society which they wish to see prosper. The narrative is taken forward as the backstory is gradually revealed to us, so that the denouement of the narrative reaches a climax as the earliest days of the characters are revealed. It’s well constructed and well handled. Now if only the author would write a big canvas space opera, that would be something I’d be really interested in reading.

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