Ken Liu. The Literomancer. (F&SF Sept/Oct 2010).

A young girl living with her parents in another country, her father a diplomat, is struggling to settle in and find friends. The decade is the 60s, the location is Taiwain, and the story charms as it describes how she finds friendship from an elderly gentleman and the young boy who is his relative, through the elderly man’s way with letters.

However, the story takes a much darker tone as the reason for the man being in Taiwan, his losses, and the losses of the young boy, come to light as the political background is slowly revealed. And the true horror is at the end, when her mentioning her friendship leads her to find out much more about her father’s role in the country in which they are living than she would want to, and the repecussions for her new friends are fatal. A powerful, harrowing story.

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