Strange Horizons — June 16, 2014

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Strange Horizons , June 16, 2014 

Storytelling for the Night Clerk” by JY Yang

Reviewed by Cyd Athens

Wei En is the protagonist of JY Yang’s “Storytelling for the Night Clerk.” During her shift as the Night Clerk, she is a technology-enhanced security guard who patrols the National Archive Complex—a place where a thousand individuals born each year are carefully curated. While the technology is interested in little more than atmospheric conditions and whether or not a breach has occurred, Wei En provides a human assessment of the data. From information flagged by the Day Clerk, she determines that Lee Junwei, an elderly gentleman who has been wandering the archives for three days, is worthy of suspicion. When she investigates a break-in at the Archives, she finds Lee Junwei trying to hack into the system and insert his son’s data. The man, whose family has been blacklisted from the Archives on account of his past as a dissident, is willing to surrender himself to the authorities asking only that Wei En finish the job she interrupted him doing. The background pieces about how Wei En spends her life when she is not on the job are not as interesting as the work-related portions of the story. Nonetheless, it is a solid read.

Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W. Comments on Cyd’s reviews are welcome at