The Warrior Within

Angus McIntyre. Tor.com, $3.99 e-book (184p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9709-6
Short fiction writer McIntyre turns to long-form writing with a strong novella that intricately captures a slice of life on a dusty backwater planet. Karsman is a stoic mechanic and unofficial mayor of a town of shacks along the Road, a planet-girdling ribbon that runs through the desert. He spends his days salvaging metal from the long-abandoned towers erected by the ancient Builders. He is also badgered by numerous personalities vying for attention in his mind: Warrior, Strategist, Diplomat, and Doctor. They were implanted in his head by the autocratic Muljaddy, a family of augmented-human priests who rule the planet atop mobile temples moved by enormous wheeled machines. Each time a persona surfaces, Karsman loses memory and time. When three off-world mercenaries enter his town to find and kill a woman, he believes they want Mera, a gentle woman he met at a festival. The mercenaries also attract the attention of the Muljaddy. As the Muljaddy uncharacteristically defer to the mercenaries, Karsman fears that momentous change is coming to his insignificant world; what he’s not prepared for is the part that he and his additional personas will play in bringing that change about. McIntyre creates a vivid setting, resilient characters, and comprehensive mythology that deserve many more stories. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
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