The idea that a uniform human genotype in and of itself would lead to humans abandoning violence and world peace is obviously not something I buy without question. Also, (involuntary) gene therapy would have made the interesting philosophical question much more nicely murky than preventing embryos (and thus practically sterilizing those affected?). So, good idea, bad craftsmanship?

The uncompromisingly colonial language of “The Butcher of New Tasmania” by Suo Hefu, translated by Andy Dudak irked me: ‘Race’, ‘Savages’, implied headhunting and cannibalism to hammer it home. But the idea of the story was still vaguely interesting (and went entirely over Kate Baker's head): The protagonist never killed a single human being, but only prevented the formation of embryos with a particular phenotype and so removed its genotype from the planet. Bam, accused of Genocide. (and peace.)

“The Very Pulse of the Machine” by Michael Swanwick is of a genre that I often take issue with in : The lone, half-mad explorer (in this one: Martha, the eternal bronze medalist, never first or even second choice, on Jupiter's Io) is the first one to encounter vast, maybe horrendous alien intelligence. This story is on the slightly more sensible end, often leaving delirium open as explanation and investing heavily in a vaguely sensible explanation how it might work. Still, not mine.

In “Old Domes” by Ji Yang, places have guardians, and with the history of a place, the guardian changes. The job of a cullmaster is to execute – not the guardian, but the ritual that drives this transition. In a place like Singapore, with its complex, but compact history, the job of the resident internationally-certified cullmaster, Jing-Li, is not a trivial one. Luckily she is a local and can adapt.

“Everyone from Themis Sends Letters Home”. (Genevieve Valentine) That is because everyone on Themis has someone left home – even Marie Roland, who doesn't, because this whole trip is the beta test for an open world simulation game with prisoners on memory drugs, of which Roland is one. This is the story of their uprising when they find out.

“One Sister, Two Sisters, Three” by James Patrick Kelly revolves around religion: The sisters follow Moya, the divine principle and person inherent in the golden ratio and the Fibonacci sequence and the natural order of things. An archeologist boyfriend from upside, where Moya isn't revered and uploading and interstellar travel happen, is therefore sinful and a strain on the sisters, and a temptation.

Robert Reed's “Next Scene” paints a post-scarcity world. AIs have provided humanity with all the necessities, but for some interpersonal drama, you get a small bonus on top. Pony, professional actor, knows how to play this game. And she has some idea about the reasons behind the incentive system, so she plays it better than a pro.

In “No Placeholder for You My Love” by Nick Wolven, Claire has found her partner, Byron, the man she wants to see again and again and again, and with whom she is willing to spend the rest of eternity on the threshold to nowhere. There, the rules of this world, with endless parties and entertainment and dating (with the same person, if only you say the “I want to see you again” before the midnight chimes) would be lifted.

“The Dark City Luminous” by Tom Crosshill is the story of Sandra, a famous augmented reality artist, cut off from her creations due to a disease that forces her to to get her eye implants removed so as to not go completely blind. It tells the story of how she comes to terms with it, and how the ‘darkitecture’ has changed the world.

Toward the Luminous Towers by Bogi Takács is a weird little story about a librarian/hacker/magician forced to fight a war from a mobile command center just behind the front lines when they would actually prefer to understand magic, and connect to the magical infosphere, the luminous towers way above and just out of reach.

“The Green Man Cometh” by Rich Larson is an awesome cyberpunk story. The protagonist, heroine even, is Eris, a taxi driver with prosthetic arms since birth in a world where this is a sign of extreme luddites. (I expected this to be a point where some antagonist would underestimate her without the protheses later on, but it wasn't.) She encounters a shady extinction cult leader and Operative City Intelligence working against the cult, and manages to save the day.

“The Most Famous Little Girl in the World” by Nancy Cress is just a family story, before the backdrop of alien first contact. That is how she became famous: She was taken into the alien ship, her sister didn't, and throughout their lives, it clouds who they are and how they interact.

“A Soldier of the City” by David Moles is a space opera painted in Babylonian trappings, with city state space stations, with priest-astronomers and loyal soldiers, ruled by gods-in-the-flesh. The main character, Ishmenininsina Ninnadiïnshum, loves the Lady of his city and is devastated when she is killed, A GOD! KILLED!, by an outside force.

“The Ghost Ship Anastasia” is a well-written horror story with a twist telegraphed from the first paragraph. If you know me, you know I could have done without horror, but that aside I liked it. I had expected the viola to be used as McGuffin, and found it surprising where that ended up.

“Checkerboard planet ” by is a bit heavy-handed at times. This is partly due to the wider universe this story belongs to, which exposition woman in desperate to dump on the reader, and partly due to heavy use of tropes to drive the fiction forward. But the bulk of the story is still enjoyable, and I think the character of Joe—she's an ex-lumberjack trans manicurist union organizer—has a major role in that.

“The House of Half Mirrors” (Thoraiya Dyer) does not only contain broken mirrors, but also a broken world. The environmental catastrophe has come to affect all water, and with the purity of lakes vanishes also their ability to serve as portals to the realm of the despised fae. In this world, a never-do-well hospital cleaner and a fae ex-healer form a secret and unlikely alliance to make the world a slightly less crapsack place.

Missing an internet connection and having to rely on some pre-downloaded podcast episode, I heard “A Stick of Clay, in the Hands of God, is Infinite Potential” by JY Neon Yang. It's an interestingly nonbinary story. What are the peaceful options for someone with severe body dysphoria when not piloting the war mech they were raised to be?

“A Tower for the Coming World” by Maggie Clark is a collection of individual fates, each connected to the Earth in some way—sometimes through the contrast of leaving it behind. The father of the man who runs the space elevator company was a mining operator, the aerospace engineer took up that line of work against the desires of his father for an astronaut, and so on. I didn't get all of it, so it's probably worth a .

I thought I had already posted my opinion on “The Calculations of Artificials” by Chi Hui, but it got lost in a bad network connection. It has a neat core idea and starts out with neat narration, but at some point it just becomes senselessly convoluted (partly on purpose) with weird assumptions about human nature.

On the surface, “Of Sight, of Mind, of Heart” by Samantha Murray is a story about children growing up. The rich world building, which reminded me of Ender's Game, puts that topic into a very specific context — and the main character is really very good at blocking that out completely.

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Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.