Buffalo Soldier

Maurice Broaddus. Tor.com, $2.99 e-book (116p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9428-6
This alternate-present steampunk adventure novella starts out strong, but the short length keeps both the world and the narrative from fully developing. Desmond Coke is a servant to a prominent Jamaican family, but he can’t bear how family scion Lij is treated, so he escapes with the boy to the mainland. They make their way through the Albion colony of America and neighboring Tejas before entering the Five Civilized Tribes’ territory. They’re pursued by Pinkerton agent Cayt Siringo, whose employer wants to claim Lij for his own purposes. Broaddus (The Voices of Martyrs) creates a fascinating world, but what little readers learn about it sometimes raises confounding unanswered questions, such as how Lij’s favorite writers, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, still came to exist in this timeline. More is revealed about the history of the people with whom Desmond and Lij find sanctuary, but the story’s conclusion feels rushed. This is a solid introduction to an intriguing world, and hopefully Broaddus will revisit and expand upon it. Agent: Jennifer Udden, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/20/2017
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-7653-9429-3
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