Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Canary’s Refuge by Wendy Nikel, as featured in the Cast of Wonders Artemis Rising Special.
Fiction Friday: Canary’s Refuge
Today’s short story is Canary’s Refuge, by Wendy Nikel, narrated by Nadia Niaz, as featured in Cast of Wonders in their Artemis Rising Special. You can find it here. For those who don’t know, Artemis Rising is a special month that features stores from women and non-binary authors who identify as women. I’m always looking for stories from different backgrounds and cultures, so today is no different.
This story is a good one about a cyborg in an underground mining shaft who uncovers the dark truth about the Refuge. It’s a good one, so let’s get into it.
The story focuses on Margaret Hunter, known as Meg, who is a cyborg living in an underground society known as the Refuge. The upper world is unknown and the miners are staging an uprising to take down the leader. Meg then realized that her world is different and that lies are put in her head to comply with this mysterious entity.
It’s a wonderful story that doesn’t follow all of the typical uprising tropes. Meg loves her life knowing and wondering but when her time comes to save those, she goes through with it to save others. The plot keeps you in and gives a side we don’t see often. One who is willing to save others at the cost of their own, who holds nothing back to do it.
While I did enjoy it, I felt the story could have had more. It starts fine but gets into the meat of it quickly. I felt there could have been more buildup to the climax instead of going right into it. Flashback sequences exist, isolated from most of the story as Meg recounts her history in the refuge. I felt the flashback sequences were fine if a bit isolated. Learning about Meg’s history added to the world and it made me want to see more of it. More of Meg.
Despite that, I felt the story was good and had a gut-punching ending that I would like to see more of. I think this story does it well, but I’ll let you find out what happens.
Speaking of her, she’s a good character, though her motives were a bit swift. She seemed to have no problem working together with the uprising in the Refuge which, again, I felt there could have been more there to add to the world. Her history is one that might have given her inspiration to carry out her mission, but it seems easy to have her go against the Refuge without any second thought unless she knew about all of this prior, which she did. I felt the intensity was a bit wasted with that as it would have increased the gravity of the situation.
It seemed too easy and had little in the way of obstacles for her to stand up against. There wasn’t much of a path of resistance, which I felt would have made the situation far more dire and suspenseful. It all seemed too easy for her.
The writing is good. I could sense Meg’s robotic personality easily. The plot twist with the AI is familiar, but I felt it could have also been developed a little more instead of being sudden and admittedly predictable.
As far as narration, it sounded a little robotic at first, which I suppose was the point, but it got better as it went. Some of the characters she voiced were fine but the narration could have been a little better.
Overall, not much else to say. It’s a good story that I felt could have gone a bit longer. I did like it and would recommend it for those looking for a good read.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.