Benjanun Sriduangkaew. The Beast at the End of Time. (Apex Magazine #81, February 2016)

apex201602online here.

Sriduangkaew is one of the few authors whose authorship of a story you can guess just from reading it. Never one to leave a stone unturned in a sentence to reveal a metaphor, simile or unusual word combination, sometimes (for this reader) she can just a bit too far in this respect, and the story becomes to much like studying something for school homework than reading for pleasure.

There are just a few times in this story my lips form a moue of frustration such as ‘When I sink into my implants I can track the fabricators, cluster by cluster, their cognitive arrays like star-sear’. I mean, WTF is ‘star-sear’??

The story opens be letting us know the end of the world is imminent, and during the course of the story we gradually find out why, as the (inadvertent?) architect of humanity’s future (and it’s downfall) attempts(?) to identify why the AI/fabricators are no longer seeking to shape our future, but rather hasten it’s end.

There’s no clear resolution, and, gentle reader, pay close attention to the closing paragraphs (hopefully not a problem as you will have had to be paying close attention to get to the end!).

Personally I’d like to have seen Sriduangkaew shift the balance between clever/complex wordplay and the actual story/narrative just a bit more in favour of the latter.

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