Of the stories nominated this year, the one that impressed me most was E. Lily Yu’s Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees. The story covers a period in which a beehive is subjugated by a group surpremely intelligent wasps. The real issue at heart here is colonialism, told through the lens of fantasy. And rarely for the genre, it handles the issue in a balanced way. No hamfistedness here!
That’s one of the most likeable things about this story, too. Not the only thing, but definitely one of them. Rather than try to shove a social commentary into the framework of a genre, Cartographer Wasps integrates very well into the fantasy of genre. It doesn’t take the route of commenting on the social issues of the Here and Now, but touches upon some of the issues that have very long histories – colonialism and social unrest.