A grim, confronting short story in George R. R. Martin’s “the Thousand Worlds” setting. There’s not much of a great hook here, and the worldbuilding and characterisation aren’t nearly as strong as they are in some other of Martin’s short stories written around the same period, but it’s a lean, quick short story, and I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my time reading it or anything.
It’s a dark story, with a dark look at human nature, and has a very unpleasant amount of rape. Unlike “A Song of Ice and Fire”, I don’t feel like the story really justified its very unpleasant contents well – there really is not much meat on the bone here, so to speak. I don’t feel like the story drew on an actual deep emotional well of Martin’s, like “Meathouse Man”, didn’t find the worldbuilding eminently fascinating, like “In the House of the Worm”, and didn’t find the characterisation particularly notable, like “A Song for Lya”.
The story doesn’t completely wallow in its own grimness, and it does all progress to a decent ending, but I don’t feel the story is compelling enough to really recommend. It’s very short, but there are many superior stories of similar length in this series alone. I give it one holostration, and a no-knife.