Clarkesworld #55, April 2011
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu
“Matchmaker” by Erin M. Hartshorn
Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu introduces a colony of paper wasps that is forced to leave their homes when people discover that their nests, when spread, are maps. The wasps move into a new territory, where they reign supreme over the existing hive of bees. Gradually, anarchists emerge in the beehive, preaching a doctrine of egalitarianism. They create a new hive. At the same time, back in the wasps’ old neighborhood, not all is well. Their loss affects the people in the region. One young woman sets out in search of them.
These ideas are interesting, but this story might have had more impact had the author decided which one she was telling. It’s like a stream of consciousness, where thoughts are tossed out and tenuously connected, but not really examined.
In “Matchmaker” by Erin M. Hartshorn, the protagonist visits an alien who’s also a Jewish matchmaker. Our nameless heroine wrings her hands over memories of her sixteenth birthday, where she wandered about meeting the men her mother had invited, until talk turned to politics and sensor implants. The matchmaker tells her to come back in a few weeks, so the heroine goes home to make apologies to her mother. She makes plans to buy a dress, and then heads to the library, to study. While there, she meets a man. Eventually, she reads the document she seeks, and learns that legislators seek to keep the two races from creating hybrids. When she returns to the matchmaker, she finds a surprise waiting.
Although it takes a tortuous path, this story does tie together. It even has an interesting message. I have to say, though, I felt rather like a passenger taken for a forty-dollar cab ride to make a ten-dollar trip. The pieces of this tale don’t mesh naturally, and the mother-daughter angst does little to disguise it.
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