The Red MotherThe Red Mother by Elizabeth Bear
My rating: 5/5 cats
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“Simple. Kill the dragon, collect its gall. Raise a bunch of people from the dead and save the harvest. That’s what you want of me.”

“I’ll feed you breakfast first.”

Despite myself, when I met his gaze, I found myself smiling at the audacity in his smirk. That audacity is why I sailed with him. It’s why I did other things with him, too.

i fell in love with this story, but we didn’t meet-cute. stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before, but for several years now i have designated those few saturday morning hours before work as my ‘read a free tor short’ time. i overslept this past saturday and while i was thrilled to see that this week’s was an elizabeth bear story, whose tor shorts have largely been exceptional, i was still pretty hungover sleepy and couldn’t get into it and it seemed to be going on and on until i realized this was one of them novelette/novellas! i put it aside until i had more time, managing to squeeze it in riiigght under the wire on 6/30, thereby fulfilling my one-a-week personal goal, so PHEW.

the only tor-shorties i avoid more scrupulously than novelette/novellas (and those damn wild cards stories) are those connected to other stories/works i have not read, and although i clocked that references were being made here to past exploits, i thought it was just for narrative roundness and i only learned today that there IS a story before this one. it is called Hacksilver, it appears in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2020 and i desperately want to read it.

because once this story hooked me, once i got the lay of the land, i fell for it hard—it’s funny and engaging, i love the character, and i’m very glad i didn’t just rush it out in a saturday-skim, because it’s well worth the time it takes to read.

read it for yourself here:…

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