Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees

Short Story by E. Lily Yu
Text & Audio free from Clarkesworld

A story that reads like a Chinese fable, but tells a story of the rise and fall of empires, subjugation, and revolution.

But the fantasy isn't just a straight centaur = black man allegory, the bees and wasps have interesting and unusual cultures of their own, and the discussion of their politics and governments made me chuckle several times at how appropriate or interesting an idea was, rather than think "Oh, just like American politics." I quite like the way insect life-spans actually matter to the cultural development too.

This is not just a story about internal and international politics and changes, it is also an examination of how outside influences can affect the conflict between countries. I won't spoil the story, but the fact that they are wasps and bees actually matters, as they exist in the real world, not some fantasy land where all the people are really wasps and bees. The story opens with this theme, with events being kicked off by a boy throwing a rock and the wasp nest, and it expands to become central to the story by the end. Oh, and I really like the fate of the bee-anarchists, it seems really appropriate, although I like their idealism.

3.5 bee-narchists out of 5.

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