Thursday, January 27, 2011

Between Two Dragons

Short Story by Yoon Ha Lee
Text and audio from Clarkesworld, read by Kate Baker.

Admiral Yen Shenar is the most brilliant tactical mind in Cho, a small empire lying between two larger, fiercer ones (the titular dragons). When Yamat invades, and Feng-Huang is slow to offer help, Admiral Shenar brilliantly pushes back the Yamat forces. But political enemies within the government see to his downfall, and have his memories wiped. He proactively hires a programmer to wipe them first, making sure to preserve his tactical acumen.

This programmer at the Ministry of Virtuous Thought is our storyteller, and she speaks hypothetically to him, giving him the beginning he's missing to his own story. But the military and political intrigue isn't the real story here. It is more about the great sacrifices a brilliant man makes for his country and what sacrifices he won't make, the changes he is willing to make in himself for the greater good, and the unsure future. The ending not only leaves open the outcome of the final battle to ward off the invading space fleet, but Shenar's future. We hope that he'll be able to fight off his political enemies this time, and effect some real change in the country's cruel and unusual abuse of political prisoners. He is the sort of man that plans these things far ahead, but we don't know how successful he can really be.

4 amnesiac military tigers out of 5.

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