Review of D. K. Mok, “The Spider and the Stars”, in Glass and Gardens: Solar Punk Summers, edited by Sarena Ulibarri, (World Weaver Press, 2018): 8-28 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology).
This is a story about telling stories, the stories our parents tell us, the stories we tell others — not the “stories” that are lies, but the stories that provide us with a glimpse of truth that can only be reached through fiction.
Mok’s tale traces Del’s life through snapshots, every few decades or so, from when Del is five and her mother tells her a bedtime story that causes her to decide the course of her destiny, to when she is fifteen and experimenting with a local boy — experimenting with modifying the genes of insects, arachnids, and plants, that is — through her adulthood and all the steps along the way to achieving that destiny.
In concept, the story reminds me of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time, a book which impressed me quite a bit. In its essence, though, it stands apart from ordinary tales of space-faring through the inclusion of something that is lacking in so many speculative-fic hero-quest stories: Loving and supportive parents. The story is dotted through with moments where a character was uncertain or apprehensive, and a parent stood by their side and gave them the strength to do what they needed to do. What small moments they were, but what important consequences they had. It made me thoroughly love reading this story.