The question is can I get 250 words out about this short story? I think so, I definitely think it’s worth reading and I want to talk about it, plus I’ve been thinking about it ever since I finished so there’s something here. Carrie Vaughn is one of my favorite writers, but she’s one I forget is one of my favorite writers if that makes sense. She’s not flashy or showy, but she reliably writes some of the most enjoyable stories. I really ought to stay more on top of what she’s putting out, but then each work won’t be the pleasant surprise I find them to be. Anyway, I perusing the Hugo nominations (say what you will about the puppies and the disasters they wrought but they also made me pay closer attention to the nominees) and saw that Vaughn had been nominated for best short story. I went searching for it, found it on Amazon, and promptly bought it.
Two nations have been waring for a long time. The people of Gaant are telepaths; the people of Enith are not. A tenuous peace has been formed and Calla of Enith and Valk of Gaant meet to play again the game they played while Calla was a prisoner of war under Valk’s supervision. I think what I like most is that the causes of the war, the sides of the war, is presented as extremely neutral. It happened, these people survived it, and life moves on.
The writing is sparse and there is so much left unsaid just beneath the story. It’s a lovely little piece of storytelling about war, what it does to people, how we survive and how we overcome. But it’s also about finding the similarities between people when the differences seem insurmountable. I think that even if you’re not a Hugo completest (I pretend to be, but I’m really not) this little story is worth seeking out.