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.

A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel

Among the universe’s civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night. Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies.

Conservation of Shadows

There is no such thing as conservation of shadows. When light destroys shadows, darkness does not gain in density elsewhere. When shadows steal over earth and across the sky, darkness is not diluted.


It is not true that the dead cannot be folded. Square becomes kite becomes swan; history becomes rumor becomes song. Even the act of remembrance creases the truth.

The Winged City

When General Minkhir returned through the Winged City’s gates, her clay servant Chukash saw the emblem of conquest in her hand. This time it was a bronze crescent, drenched in blood as always. Chukash fell in beside her, holding a basin to catch the blood. The trees to either side of them straightened, the gray-brown limbs flushing to a green-tinged hue, but the street was as dry as it had been before the general’s departure weeks earlier. It was an inauspicious sign when the city’s need for water was still dire.

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

The usual fallacy is that, in every universe, many futures splay outward from any given moment. But in some universes, determinism runs backwards: given a universe’s state s at some time t, there are multiple previous states that may have resulted in s. In some universes, all possible pasts funnel toward a single fixed ending, Ω.

The Territorialist

Jeris was feeding the gargoyles when the bone-map rattled. “Captain,” one of the guards said, “I think you ought to see this.”

Between Two Dragons

Yen, you have to come back so I can tell you the beginning of your story. Everything is classified: every soldier unaccounted for, every starsail deployed far from home, every gram of shrapnel…every word that might have passed between us. Word of the last battles will come tomorrow, say the official news services; but we have heard the same thing for the last fistful of days. And what is tomorrow, after all, but a morning after darkness?

The Pirate Captain’s Daughter

The pirate captain’s daughter had no name, although her mother’s land-born lovers, male and female, sometimes amused themselves thinking of names for her. Such strong hands, such a lithe frame, one might say, and suggest a name from an island known for its wrestlers. Another might admire the way her straight, dark hair was pulled back by pins with dragonflies on them, and name her after summer nights.

Dragon Logic

Once in a realm of islands and morning mist, an emperor’s son died. Perhaps he was murdered by a retainer. Perhaps he ran afoul of a vengeful spirit, or went hunting for tigers in a foreign land, or pined after a lady whose voice burned him with its beauty. There are many ways for princes to perish.

We are not much concerned with the prince. But the empress, oh the empress, she did not weep. They said her face was fair as foam, and that her hair rippled to her feet. She wore the colors of the sky and the colors of the sea, even after the prince’s death, for the white of mourning is a color shared by sky and sea. But her sleeves were dry.

All the empire wept for the loss of this prince, yet in one woman’s heart there was drought.

The Bones of Giants

Whatever else might be said of the sorcerer who ruled the rim of the Pit, he had never been able to animate the bones of giants. The bones lay scattered in the rimlands, green-grey with moss and crusted with crystals, whorled with the fingerprints of desperate travelers. The bones did not easily surrender fingerprints. The locals considered it bad luck to leave their marks on the giants’ bones.