Friday, June 5, 2020

As the Last I May Know, by S.L. Huang

Tor Books, October 2019

Nyma is a ten-year-old girl, raised by the Order, and now called upon to do the hardest job the Order has.

In an alternate history, Nyma's country was hit with two seres, terrible bombs that vaporized two entire cities. The country responded by becoming a major force for world peace. The country has its own seres now, but it has put a terrible price on the use of them. When a new president takes office, the launch codes are changed, and inserted, in a capsule, into the chest of a ten-year-old child. To get them, to launch the seres, the president himself must kill the child and cut the capsule out of their chest.

Nyma is the carrier for the newly elected president, and the country is at war against a dangerous enemy. She acts as an aide, and is around him nearly constantly. The idea is that, if she is a real person to him, he won't be able to use the weapons he says "should always be on the table. The question is, will it work?

It's  dark story, and yet life-affirming. I've liked the other short story finalists I've read so far, but this one just hits it out of the park. Highly recommended.

I received this story in the Hugo Voters packet, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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