Monday, July 9, 2018

In Everlasting Wisdom, by Aliette de Bodard

Solaris, September 2017 (in Infinity Wars:Infinity Project #6)

Ai Thi is a harmoniser, a servant of the Everlasting Emperor, whose job is to help keep the population on the station where she lives happy, calm, and productive. To this end, she has had an alien parasite, or symbiont, implanted in her. It's called the appeaser, and together they are able to send calming thoughts and emotions, and the wisdom of the Everlasting Emperor, to the people around them, on their daily rounds.

This is vital, and challenging, because the Empire is at war. We don't know who they're at war with, but it may not be going well. rations are growing steadily tighter. Ai Thi enlisted as an appeaser because she needed an income sufficient to support her daughter--and Second Aunt, with whom her daughter now lives, because Ai Thi is living in the harmonisers' barracks.

Her enhanced senses mean she's painfully aware of the increasing stress on the general population. Things are starting to break down.

What's really interesting here is Ai Thi's mental and emotional strength and resilience, and her relationshiop with her implanted alien telepath. It could have gone any number of ways, but the two are committed to each other, rather than being in conflict.

I'ts an interesting story, and while it's not necessarily objectively less grim than others in this anthology, I at least feel far better about it! Recommended.

I bought the anthology this story is in.