I finally had an opportunity to read Immersion. It reminded me of what a moron I can be. I’ve read short stories, especially SciFi, from time to time, but never made it a habit. Yet it was relatively rare that I didn’t like short stories; I think they just always left me wanting more, but what good novel doesn’t do that?
Ms. de Bodard reminds me, in Immersion, how incredibly great good short stories are. Within sentences, she pulls you into Quy’s world. In a brief expanse of words, 5385 to be exact, Ms. de Bodard introduces us to two cultures, a sense of social strata, deals with over reliance on technology, our inability to be at peace with who we are physically and otherwise and our desire to project someone we want to be. Mostly she deals with that slippery-slope of dependence to addiction. She does so in the context of challenging familial relations as well as a family business. She does more in 5385 words than many authors do in long novels. She does it with beautiful phrasing and a clear voice. As an example, in these three sentences, she brings in some insinuated history and culture, family relations and the protagonists own feeling of inadequacy and failure:
“Quy said nothing. Her own dreams had shriveled and died after she came back from Prime and failed Longevity’s mandarin exams; but it was good to have Tam around—to have someone who saw beyond the restaurant, beyond the narrow circle of family interests. Besides, if she didn’t stick with her sister, who would?”
Like any great love, I’m not letting this one out of my sight again. I immediately subscribed, via Kindle to Clarkesworld, the magazine that published this piece. What a lovely gem, mots justes during a lunch break, to rekindle my love for short story. One lovely added benefit of Clarkesworld is that Kate Baker reads many of the short stories. Her reading hits the level of dramatic reading without over shadowing the writing. I love her breathy quality as she hits the panic button.
I highly commend Ms. de Bodard’s story and have already downloaded her novella, On a Red Station, Drifting on my Kindle. I look forward to reading many of her works.