“Gardenias”, Ian McDonald

There is death in the Barry-O tonight but still they come down from the neon and lasershine of Hy Brazyl, the five of them. They have given themselves names, as the ones who come down will, names like Zed and Lolo and Cassaday and the Shrike and Yani. Noble they are, comely, their fathers are Company men, bound by blood and contract, their mothers are Company women; they are born to live lives of lofty altitude among the crystal pinnacles of Hy Brazyl. So: why have they exchanged their Projects and corporadas for the tar-paper and plastic favelas of the Barry-O, where the faces have no contracts and no consequence and the rain washes the names from the streets?

This is how Ian McDonald’s “Gardenias” begins; I am very sorry to see that according to ISFDB it hasn’t been printed in twenty-three years. It was one of the first times I’d met what I thought of as fantasy language in a science fiction setting, and I have hung onto the aging paperback anthology that contains it through three moves and at least one decade. The language flows.

It doesn’t seem to be currently available in either paper or electronic format, but I’ve had some luck picking up old paperbacks secondhand, lately, and someone looking for the novelette could do worse than try AbeBooks.

Image is found here, by Juan Davila, used under the CC0 1.0 license

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