On the planet of Aquestria, the two resident human factions — the Loyalists and the Senastrians — are at war, though both are suffering the effects of a plague which is killing off plants and animals alike. Isiria and Kelif, two Senestrian Special Investigations officers, respond to a call and find a strange man with his tongue cut out.  Thinking he might be a Loyalist, Kelif interrogates the stranger, until his methods become so aggressive that Isiria takes matters into her own hands.

This story is… okay. There’s a nice idea at its heart, and some deft touches in Gaskell’s writing where he evokes Isiria’s unease with Kelif’s tactics. But, though it’s always readable, much of the story doesn’t really leave a lasting impression. ‘Aquestria’ is decent enough, but nothing special.

Stephen Gaskell’s website

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