4 of 5 stars.
This post-Apocalyptic tale, takes place on the barren plains stretching between hard-scramble shanty towns that sit on the bones of former cities, power plants and military bases. There are townies that will trade with [or steal stuff from] scavengers and there are those that scavenge beyond the towns, but call no place home. The summers outside of the towns are not survivable due to the lack of water and food, and the pervasive predators, heat and dust storms. The nomadic scavengers try to buy a place in a town for the summer, working to pay their way before setting off again as autumn sets in again. Summer is quickly approaching.
Pup is a scavenger, barely remembering his mother. Though young, he wanders alone except for Ghost, a mute transparent girl that only he seems to be able to see. She first appeared to him shortly after he found himself completely alone, and she has grown in age as he has. She seems to be leading him somewhere, season after season.
After first getting rejected by a town for not having enough scavenge to buy his way in, and then getting robbed of everything he has by the very guard that rejected him, Pup follows Ghost deep into the dusty plains and finds a sanctuary. The leadership of this new place is not convinced that Pup should be brought in, but he has an advocate there in the form of a girl his age that looks just like Ghost . . .
The concept and writing of this story is immersive. The story is illustrated by artist contest winner Amit Dutta. As a quarterly short story contest winner, “Planar Ghosts” merited inclusion in the anthology Writers of the Future Volume 31 by L. Ron Hubbard. I received the anthology through Net Galley.
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