Reviews: Clarkesworld Magazine Sci-Fi Short Stories Science Fiction Reviews

Shorts: The Anchorite Wakes

There’s so much originality here, written into every corner of The Anchorite Wakes‘ little world. It’s effortless storytelling, rendered in beautiful imagery and layered characters who delicately reveal their true purpose in the greater scheme of a warring universe.


R.S.A. Garcia
Clarkesworld Magazine, August 2018
Click to read the story


It’s a simple story on the surface, hiding layers of whimsy, determination, and dark intents. We see an anchoress who is the center of her community, providing advice, praying for her people. What starts out as a simple religious story morphs into a reality that is hidden to everyone around her, save for a girl born with special abilities. She sees monsters in the corners, manifestations surrounding those she helps. Her prayers are so much more than whispers, connecting her to a network that spans thousands of worlds. You’ll want to read this story a couple of times, to see the breathtaking descriptions of invisible birds, of tigers and spiders that make up this invisible reality.


The anchoress is a fascinating character study, a woman serving many purposes and so much more than she seems. No one knows her connection to the greater scheme of the universe, her part in a war that surges across worlds and requires sacrifices from its servants. She starts as an old woman, mumbling under her breath, nodding off and staring out the window more than she should. It seems funny almost, imagining an old nun who is nearing the end of her service. In reality, she’s communicating with hundreds of other women in her same position, learning from the world, examining it for changes and for assets that can help in the fight. She’s a remarkable character.


The story takes place within the abbey she’s cloistered within, in the small, windowed room where she watches the congregation and lives her life. It seems simple, but it’s just the physical layer holding a virtual layer only she can see. There are only tidbits about the universe, showing it to be a dark and unforgiving place. It’s swift world-building in a place and time I’d love to learn more about.


Alternate Reality, Virtual Reality, Code, Hive Mind, War

Interested in more stories like The Anchorite Wakes? Check out our Clarkesworld Magazine review section.

Photo by Alexander Watts on Unsplash

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