EscapePod has published an online readable version of Ferrett Steinmetz's short story "Run," Bakri Says on their website. This was originally published in Asimov's last October, but appears now to be available for general consumption on the open Internet - to the benefit of all, I have to say after reading the story!
"Run," Bakri Says plays in a scenario where the inventor of some technological breakthrough, who also is a Bomb/IED making specialist in some unnamed insurgency, has been caught up in a general round-up by the American soldiers. It plays in real life, on Video Games, and on how time travel could, just could, turn real life into some kind of Video Game if you had save points you could go back to...
It's unsettling, it's thought provoking, and it's rather well executed. A candidate for an award, I would think...
It plays on Ghost Street, an entertainment district, staffed by robots (or are they?), animated by what used to be humans (or so they think?), made for humans. Except that these have stopped visiting - the only human is a boy who was left as a baby and is being looked after by the 'ghosts'.
Fascinating, well written, and ever so slightly creepy and unsettling I found. A story to enjoy, and a writer to watch!
The picture on the right is called Hyakki Yako (Hundred Demon Night Parade) and was painted by Jasmine Becket-Griffith. You can buy prints of it here.
The story has been shortlisted by the SFWA for the 2011 Nebula Awards - in my opinion it is an interesting piece of fiction, and I can only wish her good luck!
It is set in a near-historical China, and is built around the fact that Wasp (and Bee) Hives actually are intelligent - “it was discovered that the wasp nests of Yiwei, dipped in hot water, unfurled into beautifully accurate maps of provinces near and far, inked in vegetable pigments and labeled in careful Mandarin that could be distinguished beneath a microscope.”
If you love maps, or are fascinated by Wasps and Bees, or, alternatively, are interested in the political subcontext, then have a go!