Chen Qiufan. The Year of the Rat. (Fantasy and Science Fiction, July/August 2013)

fsf130708I tend to prefer stories where the introduction, instead of saying that the author lives with x number of cats, gives a Caveat Lector. This story, we are informed, was found by some early readers to be ‘extremely unsettling’. Perhaps by early readers editor GvG means that the story was read by children in Grade 3 with early reading skills? Or maybe my lack of unsettlement is testament to a jaded reader who read A Clockwork Orange almost 40 years ago.

Or perhaps the readers kept pet rats, as the story looks at (btw the story is translated by Ken Liu) a Chinese perspective on dealing with rats who, thanks to human intervention, are posing quite a problem. Although I can own up to a minor flicker of sympathy for one of the recruits, least suited to a life in uniform.

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