Inspired by Lev Grossman's controversial article denouncing plot-free modernist fiction, the story recommendation for the week is a very entertaining planetary adventure, Placa del Fuego by Tobias S. Buckell, from the July 2009 issue of Clarkesworld.
Set on the same harsh world as Buckell's novel Sly Mongoose, "Placa del Fuego" follows young pickpocket Tiago as he confronts in quick succession a powerful android, a resourceful female crime overlord, and a vicious alien beast. Typical of Buckell's fiction, the story is fast-paced and high-octane, yet also slips in some food for thought. In particular, "Placa del Fuego" raises the question whether the idea of free will has any meaning to someone as downtrodden as Tiago.
Tobias S. Buckell's related novels Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, and Sly Mongoose were all well received, but "Placa del Fuego" demonstrates that his style also works well at shorter lengths. You can find most of his short fiction to date in Tides from the New Worlds from Wyrm Publishing.