Sunday, September 18, 2011


September 2011 Clarkesworld Cover
Short Story by Robert Reed
Text and Audio at Clarkesworld

A post-human who consumes his courage from dispensers lives alone in his castle, one of several such lone castle dwellers among the sparsely populated world. He considers himself and his neighbors the last remnants of humanity.

One day, he adopts a dog, and a pack of them start to live outside his castle, living off his scraps. Reed never describes exactly what a dog is, but they use guns and talk and cry. My theory is that they are the last bits of unmodified, low-tech humanity, no longer acknowledged as human by the post humans, and maybe not even by themselves. They live in packs, surviving off nature and the scraps of the post humans.

The pack continually push our post-human narrator's boundaries, seeing how many he will feed, if he will protect them, break up fights, or help them in a war with another pack.

Reed leaves the setting extremely sketchy, few descriptions of anything, no history lessons, and names and personalities left ambiguous. But he establishes the dynamics between the Post-Human and the dogs, and establishes that the dogs are smart enough to be dissatisfied with the current arrangement. A fun, strange little story about the future of humanity. More sketch of the social order than character study or plotted plot-heavy thriller.

3.5 wolf empires out of 5.

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