A&A reviews The Wan by Bo Balder

The Wan (Pink Narcissus Press)

by Bo Balder

And now for something completely different… ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Wan: sentient alien mushrooms and their interactions with a human colony that their world is slowly rejecting like a bad organ transplant.

It starts out with a strange female, Ing, targeting a human man called Firdaus to change him into an alien Wan, like she is, with a simple whitefish fish bite. Her accomplices receive their instructions and admonitions to stay on-task by nibbling on pieces of her flesh that she has broken off to feed them.

We follow Firdaus, whose story this mainly becomes, to his community where he is their ruler, their stadholder. Poor Firdaus–the leader of a human settlement–becomes Wan and his community casts him out. He is forced into the surrounding alien environment where he meets Ing, who was wanned over 400 years ago when humans came to this planet. She’s watched the ecosystem steadily reject humans: slowly destroying their halal (human-compatible) food supply and ramping down their birth rates. Her solution? Wan every human. Then the haram native food will sustain them and they will become nearly indestructible.

But Firdaus is not so sure that’s the answer. Will they still be human if they are wanned? Because being Wan is STRANGE. You’ll have to read this to see just how strange, but it’s a very wild ride and very well done.

But Ing knows that something is about to happen that will kill every human on the planet–and soon–and is pushing for her solution. Firdaus meets a barren slave woman named Frog who gets in the way of Ing’s plans and is betrayed by Ing–but escapes. Frog shows up again while Firdaus is trying to warn his old community of the impending doom. Some of his family still want him, are not afraid of his new Wan persona, and cooperate.

When the cataclysm hits, will they all decide to be wanned and somewhat inhuman, will they all die, or is there a third alternative?

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