Short Stories 366:137 — “Chicken,” by Elizabeth A. Farley-Dawson

coverYay, Whix! Uh, I mean, a-hem. Okay, so one of the best things about The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis is baked into the premise: it’s a shared-world anthology, set in The Clan Chronicles universe as written by Julie E. Czerneda, and that means we get to explore side-characters in short fiction—specifically, in this case, Whix!—and that’s just basically the best ever, really. I adore this sort of set-up for collections, and I love the bird-like alien Whix so very much. This glimpse into his past, and how he ends up an Enforcer and partnered with Terk is just so much damn fun.

Now, I should also say if you haven’t read any of The Clan Chronicles, it won’t matter for this story. That’s one of the joys of anthologies like these as well, when they’re done well (and this anthology is done very well). Farley-Dawson writes Whix at the end of a particular training period in his life, coming face-to-face with a grisly murder (of one of his own alien race, no less), and teaming up with a particular large burly human for the first time and figuring out the whodunnit. It’s a mystery short, basically, and the setting is definitely baked in The Clan Chronicles worldbuilding, but Farley-Dawson gives all the details you need to understand.

Whix is just such a great character. A scientist who lives and breathes to keep his brain stimulated, bumping up against other aliens and a murder, and a situation he wasn’t really imagining himself in, and finding it truly challenging (in all the best ways). It paints a backstory for Whix that suits perfectly, and if you’ve never read Whix before, it’s a perfect opportunity to “meet” him. It’s basically the big-alien-bird-science-sleuth story I never knew I needed, but am so glad to have discovered, is what I’m saying.

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