I can’t remember who it was who suggested I check out LeVar Burton Reads, but I’m so glad they did. It’s a podcast where, well, it’s all there on the tin: LeVar Burton reads. But specifically, he curates and reads short fiction he loves (as a short fiction writer, I could add that to the impossible bucket list, no?). How could I say no to that?
“Kin,” was not at all what I was expecting. The description sounds like a simple enough set-up: a twelve-year-old boy hires an alien assassin to protect his sister. But what unfolds is so much more than that. The situation the sister is in (which was my only slight qualm), the reason the boy wants someone killed to save her, and how he knew to approach this particular alien assassin in particular all come together out of some brilliant world-building (not just of a future Earth it’s far, far too easy to imagine, but of alien races and cultures).
More, the emotionality of the story, which McAllister plays out in a truly touching scene between the alien and the boy, honestly got me a little choked up. And then the ending? There were so many layers slowly building (and peeling away) throughout this tale, revelations about both the perfectly ordinary boy and the extreme and dangerous alien that I just freaking loved this story.
And while like all good short fiction, of course I’d love more in this world with these characters, the reality is it was completely self-contained and did an amazing job telling that one, single story.
2 thoughts on “Short Stories 366:66 — “Kin,” by Bruce McAllister”
At first, I wondered why this alien follows through on the boy’s request, but this quietly menacing story showed how the mercenary alien recognizes that the two share a kinship of character.
Yes—an element of “found family” (if a bit sinister in tone).