Melanie Stormm’s 2020 Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is a stand-alone science fiction novella.
Poet Zhou Liu Yang might wish for many things: conversation with his beloved daughter (away pursuing her own career in space), a hot meal, a permanent roof over his head, even a single coin. What he actually has is a hole in his pocket.
His pocket should contain his ink bottle, his tobacco pouch, the fine brass pen from his daughter, and the coin with which he intended to purchase morning tea. Most importantly, it should contain his treasure, a blue marble with marvelous properties. His pocket inconsiderately contains nothing, thanks to the hole.
Wyrld’s End is not the largest community humans have ever created. But it’s large enough that finding an object the size of a marble could well be impossible. Nevertheless, the poet resolves to retrace his steps in hopes of recovering his lost treasure. Should that fail, he has other strategies as well. r
Strategies more dangerous than a prudent man should adopt.
This novella is quite short, at least by modern standards. Actually, even by the standards of that era long ago when I first encountered SF, when 120 page novels were perfectly acceptable, Wyrld’s End embraces brevity.
One might therefore expect nothing much to occur, given that there is so little room in which for it to occur. Not so. The author demonstrates a deft hand at revealing a complex setting in a few words. Wyrld’s End is rich in factions and plots, not to mention bold endeavors and tragic history. The poet has a rare talent for wandering into them while searching for his marvelous marble. Conveniently for the elderly poet, he also has a knack for surviving his encounters with his fellow citizens of Wyrld’s End.
Were the events of the narrative not enough, the prose itself would be sufficient to win over the reader, even notoriously tone-deaf readers like myself. While I value brevity, particularly in these days when focus seems hard to come by, I set the completed book down wishing there were more.
Last Poet of Wyrld’s End is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), and here (Amazon UK), as well as the publisher. I did not find it at Barnes & Noble, Book Depository), or Chapters-Indigo.