During a far-future Yuletide celebration on a distant moon, a colony of Organic monastics encounters an Augment constructed of nanomachines. But though this Augment bears the power to blight the monastery in the name of the ongoing war between her people and theirs, she comes seeking atonement instead in the short story "Akhila, Divided." Available in Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness.
MacCath, C.S. 2008. ‘Akhila, Divided’. In Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, edited by Mike Allen, 226–45. Winnetka: Norilana.
MacCath, C.S. 2016. ‘Akhila, Divided’. In The Longest Road in the Universe: A Collection of Fantastical Tales, First Edition, 84–107. South Haven: Triskele Media Press.
MacCath, C.S. 2020. ‘Akhila, Divided’. In The Longest Road in the Universe: A Collection of Fantastical Tales, Second Edition, 71–88. South Haven: Triskele Media Press.
C.S. MacCath’s “Akhila, Divided” has an unusual protagonist: a sentient bomb that can take on a humanoid form. When the bomb crash-lands among human beings and befriends a peaceful monk, Vegar, her attachment toward the people directly conflicts with the murderous purpose she was designed for. MacCath’s blazing prose illuminates all characters sympathetically and crystallizes arguments for and against war in one achingly divided heroine. Brutal and electrifying execution make this old story of internal conflict new and wrenching.
"Akhila, Divided," by C.S. MacCath, is another fascinating story set in a world I'd love to see more thoroughly explored. A sentient nanobomb, capable of shapeshifting and massive destruction, comes to a small community. Perhaps to inflict damage, perhaps to seek refuge. But what manner of reception will she receive here, and how will it determine the course of her actions? Mixing themes of religion, faith, redemption, revenge and sacrifice, this is a thought-provoking tale that tackles some complex subjects to admirable results.
"Akhila, Divided" by C.S. MacCath is an interesting character study. A woman created to fight a war comes to realize there ought to be something more to her life, and she seeks salvation among those who would be her enemies.
“Akhila, Divided” by C.S. MacCath: Can a living bomb have a soul? You be the judge. Highly recommended.
Will's Asylum of In(S)anity
Received Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois.