Persistence

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The best story in the March Clarkesworld, and one of the best stories published so far this year, is “The Persistence of Blood” by Juliette Wade. This is a novella set in the midst of a complex alien culture made up of several different, rigidly enforced castes (as far as I can tell, no humans appear in the story), with the protagonist, Selemei, a member of the aristocratic First Family, wife to a high government official, Xeref. The aristocrats have iron-bound traditions about birthing, believing nothing is more important than passing on their blood to the next generation, but in spite of these tradi­tions, or maybe because of them, their numbers keep falling. Selemi herself was crippled and nearly killed by her last childbirth, and knows that giving birth to another child will probably kill her.

— “Gardner Dozois Reviews Short Fiction: Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and F&SF” in Locus Online

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