Boy, did this one squick me out.
I think that’s why I started out with 4 stars, but after letting it coagulate, I think it deserves 5. The fact that’s it’s truly disturbing is a good thing.
At the outset, we see a soldier, retrieved and brought back home long after a dangerous and successful solo mission. He anticipates congratulations, honor, and tangible reward for his accomplishments… but not everything transpires as he expects.
Saying too much would be spoiling the well-crafted way in which McIntyre reveals the deeper aspects of the story, but with lean and concise prose, she conjures a strikingly original alien species with a social agenda, power structure and ideals that a reader is likely to find both troubling and believable.
Vonda McIntyre, in my opinion, is an author who has not received the prominence she deserves – and this story shows that she’s still at the top of her game.