This gem of a story starts with Zhang Xuan stealing a spaceship to track down her missing twin brother. Her quest to find him is interspersed with scenes from their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood – right up to the circumstances that led to his disappearance – and the sibling relationship is lovingly and realistically written, neither too perfect nor too fraught. If this had been a simple quest to find a missing loved one, it would have been a fine story. But Hui didn’t stop there; this is a story about the limits of human dreaming and exploration, one of my personal favorite modes of science fiction.
To me, this feels like a fresh take on that classic SF theme: humans exploring space and figuring out their place in the galaxy. It’s good to see characters of color, hailing from a non-Western culture, getting to star in that tale.
There are some stories that make me want to just pack up my word processor and give up, because I will surely never write something as exquisite, as original, as human, as the story I just read. This is one of those stories. The characters, the world, and the story that results from the combination of the two hit all the right notes for me.
If you like your science fiction with well-drawn characters and hope for an expansive future, then I highly recommend checking this out!