“Take Us To Your Chief” by Drew Hayden Taylor, Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories, 2016 (Strange Horizons, 2017-01-30), science fiction short story
Tricked. Tricked, I tell you! I wasn’t expecting Strange Horizons to release any more original fiction this month but, lo, they release a story today and it’s copyright 2017, so I read it. Then the author blurb I’d avoided until the end says it’s the title story of an already-published collection. So I look at the ISFDB and, indeed, it’s a reprint from 2016. So what’s with the copyright, SH?
But… it was a good trick. Because I enjoyed it and hope you do, too. I’ll spoil the opening to the, uh, point where it hooked me:
The men sitting on the couches in the middle of Old Man’s Point didn’t need the screeching of the cicadas to tell them how hot it was. The sweat on their foreheads and on the beer bottles gave them ample evidence. The sweat was cyclical: the more sweat on their foreheads, the more need for cold beer, which in turn became sweat in the humidity of the summer woods.
Old Man’s Point was located near the eastern shore of Otter Lake, named for an old man who used to stand on the bank and point at all the boats going by.
There follows a story very centered in place (though Otter Lake doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the Ojibway regions around the Great Lakes so I’m not sure where that place is) which yet goes pretty far afield when the alien spaceship lands. This is a first contact tale like (and unlike) many, many others but was crafted very well, paced superbly (and sedately) and just full of the quirky details I often love. A finer (and quieter) set of protagonists haven’t been depicted very often.