Friday, December 25, 2009

Cold Words

Novelette by Juliette Wade

Rulii is an alien councilor who has befriended Parker, a human linguist. The two of them are pushing for the establishment of a human spaceport on the planet, specifically in Rulii's district, which will help gain wealth and prestige for the minority population to which he belongs. Then Hada, a new negotiator for the human alliance shows up and complicates things. Also, Rulii has a drug problem.

Warning: The huge difference in the alien speech patterns was obnoxious at first and seemed overdone, but I would urge everyone to give it a few pages and not give up. The weird speech is heaviest early on, and it stops bugging you after a few pages. This story is definitely worth the effort.

This is one of those rare 14 pagers that feels like I read a whole novel worth of development by the end. I know he has big teeth and whatnot, but I love Rulii and just wanted to hug him during some scenes. This is not my standard reaction to a weird talking alien, but I was much more emotionally invested in him than in most humans I read about. The politics at the climax were clever, but the vast majority of the story was not as politically focused as the premise would lead you to believe. The characterization, drama, and everything come together perfectly here; 5 out of 5 easily.

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