Transitional Forms • 2013 • shortstory by Paul J. McAuley

★★★

Meta: ISFDB. This Near SF short story appeared in the 2013 anthology Twelve Tomorrows, my review here.

British botanist McAuley stays in his genre:
Plants with biotechnically modified genes – so called a-lifes – gather minerals at mining sites. The problem is that they evolve and spread and the zone is shut down by government to prevent gene-pirates messing things up further. A patrolling ranger encounters an attractive scientist. Things go as they must, she dupes him. There is some beauty in the world-building, like some kind of graffiti pirates enhancing the a-lifes with bioluminescence.

But I know that McAuley can put more awesomeness into 10 pages, e.g. in his The Man.

The story makes you think alone with it’s title – transitional forms are life forms that exhibit traits both in its ancestors and descendants. One might wonder where those a-lifes transit to, where the dangers are and how corrupt governments only superficially prevent uncontrolled spreading.

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