The Machineries of Empire #1
At Kel Academy, an instructor had explained to Cheris’s class that the threshold winnower was a weapon of last resort, and not just for its notorious connotations. Said instructor had once witnessed a winnower in use. The detail that stuck in Cheris’s head wasn’t the part where every door in the besieged city exhaled radiation that baked the inhabitants dead. It wasn’t the weapon’s governing equations or even the instructor’s left eye, damaged during the attack, from which ghostlight glimmered.
What Cheris remembered most was the instructor’s aside: that returning to corpses that were only corpses, rather than radiation gates contorted against black-blasted walls and glassy rubble, eyes ruptured open, was one of the best moments of her life.
Five years, five months, and sixteen days later, surrounded by smashed tanks and smoking pits on the heretic Eels’ outpost world of Dredge, Captain Kel Cheris of Heron Company, 109-229th Battalion, had come to the conclusion that her instructor was full of shit.
Science-minded fox spirits, tiger wives, books that can be read by anyone but their owner—these and more appear in Yoon Ha Lee’s flash fairy tales. Previously available online, they have now been collected in this volume along with four new stories and an introduction by the author.
In this debut collection of short fiction from one of science fiction and fantasy’s most notable new writers, Yoon Ha Lee integrates tropes of science fiction with elements of myth to create tales that are wonderfully fresh and deeply ancient. No matter what the theme, her wide variety of stories are strikingly original and always indelible.