SPIDER'S MOON, short sf story about trade between spacefaring South Seas islanders and Vietnamese factory owners

Lavie Tidhar's story "Spider's Moon" is up on Futurismic, and it's a very rewarding ten-minute read. Futurismic's short-short fiction department publishes some genuinely wonderful science fiction, bite-sized stories that contain actual characters and settings and plots in impossibly small packages.

"Spider's Moon" is no exception: a story about spacefaring South Seas Islanders who come to Earth seeking mass-produced Vietnamese technology, and of what transpires; told with an admirable lyricism and poesie.

Melkior felt a little lost at Hoi An. He had arrived three days before, taking a room in a small hotel just outside the old town. It was, in many ways, a disconcerting experience. Once, Hoi An had been a trade centre, the meeting place of Chinese and European merchants on the coast of Viet Nam, and the old town had been preserved just as it had been, full of charming little cobbled streets and charming little temples and charming old houses – "Charm," the brochure insisted, "is the defining characteristic of the town". The old town was a bubble out of time, and visiting it was a wilful act of time-travel, or so it seemed to Melkior. The Hoi An lanterns ("Famous for hundreds of years," boasted the brochure) still hung everywhere, and barges still travelled down the river, pushed on long poles – and yet it was a lie, too, for the past was not really there, only its semblance, and who could believe in the past (not less a gentle, charming past) under the full spider's moon?

Crossing from the old town into the new was a disorienting fast-forward into the future: here, beyond the bubble of preserved time, the future happened with every heartbeat, the sound of construction filling the days, houses and office towers rising higher and higher into the atmosphere, as if grasping for the moon. He was here for the new town, not the old; was here for the future, not the past. The juxtaposition of both unsettled him. It had occurred to him he should have stayed in Da Nang, a forty-five minute drive down the road, a busy, bustling, cheerful city that had nothing of the quaint or picturesque (as the brochure had put it). Hoi An was a tourist town, famed for its tailors and shoe-makers, and even Melkior had given in to that extent, having purchased a new, sombre black suit and two pairs of custom-made knock-off trainers, with the company logo hand-stitched into the thin leather. He wore them now, feeling the cobblestones beneath the thin soles.

Spider's Moon
By Lavie Tidhar