I felt the first cut like a violation. Pain burst in my chest, would not cease. I screamed and screamed until my voice was raw. No. No. I never asked for this! I saw a priest lift out a bloody, pulsating thing dizzyingly high above me, and a sensation of emptiness spread from the hole in my chest and swallowed me.

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Read “Blighted Heart” by Aliette de Bodard, in Issue #22

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Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, an Ignyte Award, a Locus Award, a British Fantasy Award, and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, and was a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella). Her most recent book is Fireheart Tiger (Tor.com), a sapphic romantic fantasy inspired by pre-colonial Vietnam, where a diplomat princess must decide the fate of her country, and her own. She also wrote Seven of Infinities (Subterranean Press), a space opera where a sentient spaceship and an upright scholar join forces to investigate a murder and find themselves falling for each other. Other books include Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, (JABberwocky Literary Agency, Inc.), a fantasy of manners and murders set in an alternate 19th Century Vietnamese court. Visit her at aliettedebodard.com for writing process and Franco-Vietnamese cooking.

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