JY Yang’s The Red Threads of Fortune is the second of two upcoming novellas set in Yang’s Tensorate setting.
Four years ago, tragedy drove Mokoya away from friends and family and out into the Gusai Desert. Now she uses her Tensor skills to hunt rogue nagas. She has lost her ability to look into the future. She is depressed and often lashes out at those around her 1. She had hoped that time and distance would heal her wounds, but they still fester.
An emergency jolts her out of her wretched rut. There is something new and terrible out in the desert.
Mokoya disregards to her crew boss to hunt, alone, an unfamiliar rider on naga-back. She is sure that this is the giant naga that threatens the mining city of Bataanar. And she is sure that she can handle anything she faces. She is wrong. The mysterious rider turns out to have extraordinary power to manipulate Slack. Mokoya is easily defeated … then spared. She returns to camp, puzzled by the unexpected mercy.
A second encounter provides illumination. The stranger’s naga is not the naga Mokoya and her colleagues are looking for. The stranger, Rider, is not the person responsible for unleashing death and destruction on the region. Rather, they are possible allies. Eventually Rider becomes something much more to Mokoya.
Just because Rider and their mount are not monstrous does not mean there is no monster to be found. In fact, Mokoya, her boss Adi, Rider, and the inhabitants of the city of Bataanar don’t really need to search for it. It’s coming for them.
This isn’t a simple monster-hunting story; it’s more than that. Dealing with the creature requires understanding what it is and why it was created. There’s no shortage of obvious suspects, not least of which is the Protectorate that holds nominal sway over Bataanar. If Protectorate troops enter the city, they could probably put an end to the great beast. They would certainly try to stamp out the Machinist movement tolerated there. Which would be bad.
Allies from Mokoya’s past arrive to join the fight against the giant naga. Machinists within the city deploy their own weapons. Will this be enough to win the battle? The outcome is in doubt … until Mokoya solves the mystery of the giant naga AND learns to use Slack as Rider uses it.
It’s been almost a year since Tor put out this press release:
I’m thrilled to announce the acquisition of two novellas from rising short fiction author JY Yang. The Red Threads of Fortune and The River Runs Red chart the lives of Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of Protector Sanao, as they struggle to find their place in Ea, a world rent by terrible divisions of power.
A year is a long time to wait if you want, want, want to read more by Yang. A long time for anticipation to build, and perhaps to be disappointed. I am happy to say the novella more than lived up to my expectations.
Please email corrections to jdnicoll at panix dot com.
1. My editor tells me that she quite disliked Mokoya, “You do not have to be a shit to everyone around you just because you’re depressed,” she says. Readers can make up their own minds about this.