Simone Heller. When We Were Starless. (Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2018)

I read this in it’s appearance in Neil Clarke’s ‘The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4’. It’s still online here and well worth your time reading it before you read my take on it (the story was a finalist in the Sturgeon and Hugo Awards).

Heller is an author new to me, but a name I would be looking out for now if I was still in the habit of reading a lot of short SF in it’s original appearance.

It’s far future, and we follow Mink and her tribe, making their way across a strange, post-something planet. Mink is clearly descended from humanity, and the story teases out the story of her, and her people, and where they are and what has happened. She has an ability to deal with ghosts, and in fleeing an attack by some strange mechanic metal beasts she and her tribe come across a ‘haunted’ dome.

As such a story invariably does, Mink has to face a big challenge, there are revelations, some well-handled human and human/nonhuman interactions, and a bigger picture is revealed, and all in all, it’s a great example of this kind of story.

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