Review: “Schools of Clay” by Derek Kunsken

4 of 5 stars.

This is a fascinating look at class struggle and social revolution set in an alien species and culture in a distant asteroid belt orbiting a pulsar known as The Hero. Subsections of the tale alternate between two different time frames. The “Past” incorporates Diviya’s awareness of the uneven distribution of work, benefits and punishment among the castes of his hive culture. Like a bee hive, the society has a queen, multiple princesses each with the potential to start new hives, many princes for each princess, scores of male drones and courtiers, and hundreds of male workers. Diviya has risen form a worker to a doctor, but his loyalties are with the workers.

The “Present” is the time of the great migration around a distant blackhole called The Maw, when those who are able attempt to escape the collapse of a hive under the predatory actions of the shaghal. Only princesses, princes and some courtiers are equipped to make the migration to start new hives. Those left behind or caught en route are consumed by the shaghal.

Diviya’s plan is to survive the migration in order to seed the new hive with equality, but every individual and even his own wiring are against him . . . This story is highly recommended.

“Schools of Clay” appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2015 edited by Rich Norton and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Asimov's, February 14, 2014.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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