Rich Larson. There Used To Be Olive Trees. (Fantasy and Science Fiction Jan/Feb 2017)

oh my goodnessAnother good story from Larson.

I’d have preferred for the protagonist to have been a bit older – teen protagonists can be fairly easily portrayed, with little real depth to them due to their age, whereas, for my money, older protagonists can have depth, lived experience and be altogether rounder characters.

I also get a bit chary when it comes to teen sex. I don’t have any problem whatsoever that the sex in question is same sex, just that as a 56year old, reading about 16year old teens having sex doesn’t seem at all appropriate! (But Larson isn’t altogether too far off 16 himself for him to be writing about it to be any kind of issue.)

However, leaving aside the tugging and frotting, Larson creates a near-future post-something world, in which angsty teen Valentin is introduced as he escapes his walled town. The background is interesting – AIs and hardware have a deal of control, in a reduced world, and Valentin is one of only two people with an interface to the AIs in the town. Problem is the AIs are refusing to communicating with him.

We follow him into the wilderness, where he falls into the grasp of Pepe, a wildling, who takes him captive. As the pair set off to Pepe’s village, the background is revealed, and captor/captive relationship grows into something else.

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