Short Stories 366:101 — “The Stars Do Not Dream,” by Amanda Sun

coverI feel like I need to preface my first delve into The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis with a bit of explanation. It’s a shared world anthology all set in Julie E. Czerneda’s Clan Chronicles universe, all taking place in one of the most memorable settings in the series: Plexis (basically a giant shopping mall that used to be a mobile refinery of asteroids). There’s also Czerneda’s story, a new Sira and Morgan tale, woven throughout the other stories, popping in and out between the tales in order. So you get a kind of pass-the-baton relay of tales as Sira and Morgan try to do some simple business on Plexis (which doesn’t go, well, simply), and as they brush by (or run into) other characters or businesses, the other authors spin you a story happening alongside. This is basically my short fiction catnip, is what I’m saying.

Okay! Onward. Amanda Sun opens the first non-Sira and Morgan story with something that is also short fiction catnip for me: a tale of someone who doesn’t fit and stands out despite their best efforts finding their own place by ending up somewhere where so many different people go they no longer stand out. The Turrned’s are an alien species who are devoted to caregiving. It’s part of their nature, built in to the point where their empathy literally projects outwards to other species and makes them feel “warm,” and L’inarx Hoch isn’t at all like the rest of the Turrned. He tries, but a curiosity of his birth has left him physically different and his thoughts are often borderline heretical in the eyes of his people.

What he is good at is food, and crafting meals brings him real joy. When he struggles to fit in with the rest of his missionary group at Plexis, managing to upset the most basic of processes, he’s sent off to hand out tracts and then bumps into an ingredient merchant and… well. It’s the Plexis. “If You Want It, It’s Here!” is literally written on the outside of the place. And maybe there is something L’inarx Hoch wants, despite his whole life having told him the only thing he’s supposed to want is to take care of others in the way they’ve decided is best. The story is cute, and bright, and you just want L’inarx to succeed, even when he bumbles at pretty much anything he’s supposed to be doing. It’s the perfect opener to the anthology, and had me ready for the next interlude and story right off.


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