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And that’s how I ended up at the gambling table with a motley collection of aliens.

Wait, let me back up and tell you the whole story.

I knew Wren Wallis‘s The Storyteller’s Sleight was special from the first paragraph. This is not a story that tentatively dips its toes into the world or winks coyly at being space opera. You get thrown right into a colorful, rich universe full of myriad aliens and people and cultures without apology. You know you’ve only just scratched the surface as you follow the plots and tales of Esmat, the titular storyteller. There’s an incredible amount of world building depth visible in less than 5000 words.

(One thing I asked Wren right away is if there are more stories about Esmat, because I want to read more about her and the fascinating universe around her.)

And all that? Is the sumptuous backdrop for a heist that takes place during a game of chance, one that keeps you guessing about just what Esmat’s plan is until the end. I loved this story because it drew me in and kept me guessing–and I loved all of the players in it, sketched out with dialog and action. I have to give a shout out here to Captain Pham, the host of the game, who spends the entire story Done With Everything. (“The next person to ask me why anyone else at the shitting table got invited can show themself out the shitting airlock, right?”)

I’m a sucker for this kind of technicolor space opera, and for fun heist stories, and for clever storytellers. So no shit, there I was. And there you can be too, if you support the Kickstarter!

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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