short stories

First published in 1999, Yoon’s fiction ranges from military science fiction to fairy tales. Click any story’s title to view additional author’s notes.

Falcon-and-Sparrows

As I grew in years, I had participated in the new capital’s migrations—what we called the glider contests. My mother, bemused, had given me her encouragement.

Even today I don’t know what had led East Kheneira’s Cultural Preservation Council to choose the migrations as a designated cultural treasure. But the contests were held every year, not just in the capital but in a number of towns. Glider artists from Falcons Crossing dominated the contests. I was not the only one to study their methods, desperate for some hint as to their mastery. It was unlikely to be in their designs, which were conventional. They used the paper provided for the contests, so that couldn’t be it either. Perhaps, as some said, it was their devotion to the art, which had a longer lineage in Falcons Crossing than elsewhere.

I had come to the town itself in hopes of finding the answer. What I expected to discover, I don’t know. But anything was better than lingering over my mother’s possessions, trying to puzzle out the mysteries that had led to her dying with no one to mourn her but a half-Kheneiran, half-Ulowen child.

Shadow’s Weave


When Tamalat heard the crunching in the snow behind her, she knew who had followed her to the funerary tower. So close, she thought, but there was no help for it. “I thought an ex-engineer would be better at following directions,” she said, turning around. She knew better than to leave her back exposed.

Foxfire, Foxfire


No; I wandered the Lantern District in search of a soldier. Soldiers were easy enough to find, but I wanted a nice strapping specimen. At the moment I was posing as a prostitute, the only part of this whole affair my mother would have approved of. Certain human professions were better-suited to foxes than others, she had liked to say. My mother had always been an old-fashioned fox.

“Baekdo,” she had said when I was young, “why can’t you be satisfied with chickens and mice? You think you’ll be able to stop with sweet bean cakes, but the next thing you know, it will be shrimp crackers and chocolate-dipped biscuits, and after that you’ll take off your beautiful fur to walk around in things with buttons and pockets and rubber soles. And then one of the humans will fall in love with you and discover your secret, and you’ll end up like your Great-Aunt Seonghwa, as a bunch of oracle bones in some shaman’s purse.”

The Cold Inequalities

The archiveship’s master index showed no change. It was Anzhmir’s duty to monitor the jewel-flicker of her freight of quantum blossoms in their dreaming, as well as the more mundane systems that regulated navigation, temperature, the minutiae of maintenance. The archiveship’s garden consisted of a compressed and sequenced cross-selection of human minds, everything from pastry chefs to physicists to plumbers. The selection was designed to accommodate any reasonable situation the colony-seed might find itself in, and a great many unreasonable ones as well.

Anzhmir had reached for the book’s address in memory, and found instead a wholly unfamiliar piece of lore. The discrepancy could only mean one thing: a stowaway.

Interlingua


I had offered Cherie a variant on her solitaire adventure game and she had turned me down twice already. Watching her do the exact same thing every playthrough—all to get to the payoff scene where her avatar romanced the sorceress—made me want to shoot myself, which would require some interesting physics. That was pretty much how this voyage had been going so far.

Variations on an Apple


A few words need to be said about the apple at this point.

It had no fragrance of fruit, or even flowers, or worm-rot. It smelled of diesel hearts and drudgery and overcrowded colonies; of battery acid gone bad and bromides and foundered courtships. Intoxicating, yes, but in the way of verses etched unwanted upon the spirit’s cracked windows. The smell was so everywhere-pervasive that, once the apple showed up in the room, it was hard to imagine life without it. Not inaccurate, really.

The Old Road

Fantasy flash in Not One of Us #54. Dedicated to Chrysoula and Claire Alcock.

Gamer’s End

Your realm is a vast one: worlds upon worlds you’ve never heard of. Some have more strategic value than others. The Taurags care a great deal about what they call honor. They make a point of sparing civilian targets. But your people are still losing.

Snakes

Clarkesworld July 2015

I had brought the corpse of my soldier-sister Rhiis-2 a long way, suspended in a fluid of suppositions:

If she examined the navigational display, she would advise that we route around this dwarf star in realspace, that strand of charged matter in shadowspace.

If I neglected to clean out the ship’s torchgun regularly, she would gum up the apertures with that horrifying squishy self-heal gel that we were supposed to use on the ship’s lenses so I really had to work to clean it out.

If the skimship’s power systems flashed that particular stress-alert, check the physical gauges before doing anything drastic, because the hookups sometimes lied to us.

Apocalypse Foxes


At the end of the world, your grave is written not in bitter libations or raven words or elegies breathed across broken glass. Under the dusk of a dreary sun you gather your bones close; across the husk of a weary world you leave behind shadows, but no footfalls. And in the meantime, the foxes come.