Online fiction: “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” in Clarkesworld


In possibly the fastest turnaround I’ve had from finishing the final draft to publication, you can now read my story “Scattered Along the River of Heaven” in Clarkesworld.

Or, if audio fiction is more to your liking, you can listen to the podcast by the awesome Kate Baker.

This is the pseudo-Asian SF story with bots, a dying colonial empire, and a prison orbiting a black hole–aka the one where I had to improvise four pseudo-Chinese poems before I could actually write any of the story’s scenes. It was, well, not fun to write, but very instructive. And scary. This is a very scary story, because it’s ambitious, and touches on matters I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I feel very much exposed publishing it.

Would love to know what you thought of it (either at Clarkesworld or here)–this is possibly the best thing I’ve written yet, and I’m curious (OK, and scared, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?) to see people’s reaction to it.

I’ll post author notes and thoughts on writing processes tomorrow, so do stay tuned 😀


  1. Beautiful and haunting. I loved the poetry, adapted or not. Having spent some time in Korea, your insightful handling of a culture divided by war and revolution,and youth struggling to comprehend their family heritage, really resonated with me.

    The bots were wonderful, and I should have anticipated the POV reveal at the end, but was glad I didn’t.

  2. Aw, thanks, Fred! I wasn’t primarily thinking of Korea while I wrote this, but I’m glad it resonated with you and fitted that situation you’ve witnessed.

  3. I just read it and I loved it! Robots, stars, uprisings, poetry–raw emotion, generational stories, beautiful language–so much was packed into 7k. I was in awe the whole time I was reading it. Also, I admire your skills with nonlinear storytelling. You seem to have a real knack for it.

    No need to be afraid. It was an excellent story. 😀

  4. Aw, thank you so much, Laura!
    (I only know one non-linear mode of storytelling, the entwined flashbacks. I fail dismally at all the others..).

  5. Aliette, this is the kind of story that reinforces my knowledge that I will never be a writer. I lack sensitivity to poetry or generational dynamics, but I make up for it with a poly sci mindset that really enjoyed the look at what happens to a revolution once the fighting stops and the news cameras leave. I was also impressed with the Asia-in-space and the complete lack of Euro-American spacemen. (This comment sounds a little more flippant than I intended, certainly considering the haunting nature of the story.)

  6. Aw, thank you so much, Brittain! It’s good to know that even if you don’t grok poetry, you can get behind the events of the story.
    I’m not very good with Euro-American spacemen, I’m afraid… (the San-Tay are sort of Franco-English in my mind, though, but it’s all very meta).

  7. Looks like I was too late for the shameless link post, but I just barely got a more detailed reaction up. I kind of compare it to a Bach fugue, then talk about Muppets, football, and some other stuff.

  8. I think I’m the one who’s speechless… Thanks very much for the post (it’s starting to be longer than the story 😀 ) Emailed you with more private thoughts.

  9. (will roundup more reviews next week and put yours in)

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