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

As the Last I May Know by S.L. Huang
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

An alternate history short story looking at decisions and consequences, and what it takes to pull the trigger.

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Nyma, the main character, was an ordinary young girl in almost every way imaginable. Meeting her was the last thing I expected when I started reading this tale, so I was curious to see how such a happy and beautifully average child would fit into the science fiction and horror genres. This is something best left to each reader to discover for themselves, but I was pleased with the transition between introducing this character and explaining how she fit into a future version of what Earth could be like.

There was a plot hole involving something that happened to Nyma when she was a small child and could have serious repercussions for her in the future. The characters acted as if it was something that only had two possible solutions, one of which would end very poorly for her and the other of which seemed less likely to happen with every passing day. Despite this, I could think of at least one other solution that would keep her safe while also giving everyone what they wanted. While I can’t go into detail about what this conflict was without sharing away major spoilers, I do wish the characters would have at least acknowledged the third solution to the problem and discussed why it wasn’t a good idea before moving on to other options.

The world building was well done. There were plenty of interesting hints about which historical event had turned out so differently for humanity in this universe. Given how different their world was from anything we have on Earth today, I appreciated having so many details about where our histories diverged and how their society came to such a different conclusion about how people should live. It really made this world come alive in my imagination.

As the Last I May Know was one of the most subtly frightening things I’ve read recently. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys history and asking “what if?” questions.

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