Fireside Magazine has just released their latest story, “Hehua” by Millie Ho. Ho is a Torontonian who splits her time between Canada and Asia, and has had work published in Uncanny Magazine. The story is one of the last ones selected by Brian J. White, the magazine’s founder, before he stepped down from his role as editor and publisher.
“Hehua” is set in Toronto in the near future when genetic modification for the rich has become the norm – and those who aren’t rich pay the price, one way or another. The story’s trenchant commentary on class, race, employment, incarceration and entitlement mingle to create an intriguing murder mystery.
Plus, there’s at least one element of perverse optimism in the mix: one of the story’s major settings is New Finch Station – a subway station that doesn’t exist yet. A future in which Toronto finally gets its act together and invests in more mass transit? Now I know it’s fiction.
Here’s an excerpt.
Ba’s words rang in my ears whenever I thought about getting an Edit. Maybe he was right. Edits could rewire your entire adult brain, take away your road rage, turn you into a Jeopardy! champion overnight. But they were less reliable than the Wonder Kid procedure, which created designer babies for the one percent, the ones with a boatload of cash to burn on perfectly intelligent, athletic, and beautiful heirs, with choice of skin and eye colour laid out on a self-serve menu, all risk of disease trimmed off their genes before birth.
Edits were for desperate adults and often hit or miss. Sometimes, while walking through the Financial District, I’d see someone get out of an UberPod in a jerky, lopsided way when they were fine just days ago, or say hi to a familiar face at a Starbucks, only to see their glazed eyes slide right off of me, having forgotten all about me.
“The world is getting Edited,” I told Hehua once. We were sitting in the food court far from the Wonder Kid cliques, our seating arrangement an exact replica of our work space upstairs. An ad for an Edit that got rid of anxiety flashed on the TV, which made my teeth ache with temptation once again.
“Wo bu xi huan Edits, they’re so super fickle,” Hehua had said, blowing on her pidu noodles. She giggled when I told her it was actually pronounced “Superficial”.
“Don’t you want to fit in?” I said.
“You should just be you,” Hehua said, then dipped her head over her bowl and slurped loudly.
If you like it, read all of “Hehua” by Millie Ho online here.