I’ve got another oldie-but-goodie for you today. E. Lily Yu’s “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” took the 2012 awards season by storm, racking up nominations for the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Awards. This Short Story of the Day pick is just as captivating in 2023, nearly twelve years after it originally appeared in Clarkesworld.
Why “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”?
I love a good space opera or sword-clanging duel to the death as much as the next SFF fan, but there’s just something about quiet stories. In just 3,400 words, Yu’s 2011 offering packs a real punch. It’s almost unnervingly quiet. The magnitude of what’s unfolding, both on the page and off, doesn’t fully connect until the last sentence.
Connect as in punch. The last sentence of “Wasps” leaves you on the floor with your chest caved in. Not only does it force you to ache over everything you’ve just read, but it also compels you to start reading again from the beginning, just to experience it one more time.
My favorite line:
None had seen a winter before, but the memory of the species is subtle and long, and in their hearts, despite the summer sun, they felt an imminent darkness.
Click here to read “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.”
Image credit: Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash