Author: Karin Tidbeck
Published: tor.com 2013, reprinted in Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition: A Tor.Com Original (free ebook)
Genre: Science fiction
Length: 5341 words, short story
I read this as part of my reading challenge: 25 short stories in 25 days.
I have wanted to read something by the Swedish Karin Tidebeck for quite some time, so I was happy when I see a story by her in this year’s Tor.com collection. I had expected it to be fantasy, but it turned out to be a science fiction story.
The protagonist has a physical disability and it’s walking with canes. Unlike so many science fiction stories her disability is not magically cured in the story. In the beginning of the story her society let her disability define her and the barley tolerate her. Throughout the story and her interactions with a stranger she starts to see that the world could be different and she starts to change. He love choose to risk disability to be able to sing like the locals and go though a ceremony that has changed the local humans by taking on a parasite. It seems to be the year of the parasites.
It is a very sweet story and the protagonist and her lover both grow so much over such a short story. I love that he falls in love with her and touch her. She has never experienced even the most casual of intimate touches before. She must have been so extremely lonely before he met her. Nobody would even look at her, though they were happy to buy the clothing she made.
I really enjoyed the story and I do want to read more by Karin I’d this is the level of writing, storytelling and thoughtfulness I can expect.
I like chewy short stories that make me think and are well told.
Edit: I just saw Greg Ruth’s amazing illustration for the story for the first time. What a perfect illustration for the story. It encapsulates the absurdity and otherworldly nature of the story perfectly. It is also a beautiful drawing.