The Far Reaches Reviews: “The Long Game” by Ann Leckie


The Far Reaches Reviews: “The Long Game” by Ann Leckie

Somewhat recently, Amazon got together six writers you’ve likely heard of and tasked them with writing science fiction stories. It’s called “The Far Reaches.” And, with how fun it was reviewing the similar series, “Creature Feature,” it seemed like a good idea to continue the trend.

So, we’ll be seeing which one is the best, and going over them in the order they are presented. Starting with…

“The Long Game” by Ann Leckie

The Long Game” is actually a story about very short periods of time and the exploitation of a species. Its title refers to one idea in the story, among a few different, some related, some not, concepts—and the greatest strength of this one, like “How It Unfolds,” is how interesting those ideas are.

It’s also unique in the collection—so far, at least—because it’s xenofiction. Meaning it has an alien as our perspective character. One who is not even a humanoid. Narr is a slug-like creature, whose size isn’t quite clear, but I imagine is about as big as a guinea pig.

And, most importantly, Narr’s species live extremely short lives. Like, so short that it’s a little existentially disturbing to think about—and how “The Long Game” explores that is ostensibly the hook of the story. I won’t go into it much, because I do recommend this tale and I don’t want to spoil it, but, like a lot of great sci-fi, “The Long Game” got my mind going about the various implications and differences lifespans can play in a species’ progression. How does culture change based on how long individuals are around to influence culture? What is legacy when it’s measured in less than a decade?

But, like I said, “The Long Game” is also about exploitation—specifically with how humans treat these slug creatures. We’re the bad guys, unquestionably, in this tale—and that’s not something I’ve seen in fiction much, let alone xenofiction, and it makes “The Long Game” all the more interesting. There’s a lot of indirect worldbuilding skillfully accomplished with only a few scenes, and the ending simultaneously lets the reader know what might happen next and feels like a strong conclusion.

Basically, “The Long Game” is great. It’s well-paced, well-written, with fantastic worldbuilding. I love when science fiction makes me feel like I just unlocked a new mode of looking at reality. And this one accomplishes that in so few pages.

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