4 of 5 stars.
The cultural politics of disputed land is rife with tension and prejudices. Think: Kashmir and Palestine. One hopes that pacts are made in good faith and sensitivity. However, far too often common ground is not found and and any sense of understanding is lost in translation.
Set on an off-world planet occupied by 2 different colonizing races, neither of which originated on the disputed planet, this tale brings together the descendants from an historic agreement between the cultures with neither side 100% happy. Ashiban Xidyla of the Raksamat people is the daughter of the woman who’d crafted the treaty. She shares a quiet plane ride with the Sovereign of Iss, granddaughter of the treaty-signing Sovereign of Iss, heading to formally meet and discuss the original pact.
The tale opens with Ashiban concussed and confused amid wreckage as the Sovereign pulls her from the plane. Using a handheld translator, the young Sovereign informs Ashiban that they’d been shot out of the sky by one side or the other and they’re the only survivors. Escaping just before the plane plunges under the mire’s black water, the women run for solid ground away from the pursuing flyers that had attacked them.
This canny tale forces 2 distrustful people to work together to survive, neither knowing which inadvertently represents the side that tried to kill them. Then, they lose the translator . . .
This tale appears in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 10 edited by Jonathan Strahan. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. I’ve previously reviewed this author’s “Resurrection Points”.
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