This is a slightly gruesome story of transformation (if body-mod things squick you out, you might want to avoid this), and I almost really enjoyed it — it was suffused with love and freedom and acceptance. But it was told in 2nd person, and in this context, that POV just didn’t work for me.
Zombie stories aren’t really my cup of tea, even if the zombies involved “really were sort of cute”. 🙂 But Thimmes managed to find a distinctive premise, which got me immediately interested in the first few paragraphs. (Got bogged down a bit with the info dump a few paragraphs later, but that was a minor blip.) I give this story a thumbs up, and it’s even my own thumb.
Everything in this story felt shadowy and inaccessible; there was a feeling of weighty significance, but never any indication of what these things were significant of, and I came away feeling like I never quite understood what was going on.
In “The Acheulean Gift,” some children have been genetically modified with DNA from pre-“Home Sapiens” humans, hoping that this will reduce some of humanity’s most descriptive tendencies. The program didn’t work as expected,
I found the “Acheulean genetics” program described in the story rather implausible, in more than one way. It’s hard to suspend your disbelief for this one, though if you are able to, then it is a pretty good story. The writing is competent, the characters were well-crafted, and I particularly appreciated the little touches the author put on the brother-sister relationship (like their playful rivalry in the ax throwing exercises).
Overall, there’s a lot to like about “The Acheulan Gift,” even though I personally could not get past the premise.