Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang
Release date: July 12th, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Science fiction
Xin is an ansible, using her song magic to connect the originworld of the Imperial Authority and its far-flung colonies— a role that is forced upon magically-gifted women “of a certain closeness”. When a dead body comes through her portal at a time of growing rebellion, Xin is drawn deep into a station-wide conspiracy along with Ouyang Suqing, one of the station’s mysterious, high-ranking starmages.
I’m always in awe at how some authors are able to craft completely original, fully formed characters and engaging stories in less than 100 pages. I read the novella Waiting on a Bright Moon as part of the Bout of Books read-a-thon after it had been sitting on my Goodreads “currently reading” shelf for ages. I’m not sure what took me so long to finally start reading it, but once I finished the first paragraph I knew I had stumbled across something unlike anything that I’ve read before.
The story is about an ansible (a group of magical women forced into service by the government) named Xin who has been forced to use magic in order to benefit the empire. Its main theme is taking back control of your life no matter the consequences, but the novalla also touches on subjects involving same-sex relationships, independence, rebellion and self-determination.
What made this story unique was the author’s blending of languages and worldbuilding abilities. Although primarily written in English, parts in Chinese (poems and songs) are scattered throughout the story. Although I didn’t understand what they said, I liked how these little snippets added to the feel of the story and really impressed the reader in the setting of the novella. As for the worldbuilding, wow…just wow! The idea was extremely creative and ambitious for such a short piece of writing. Usually sci-fi takes time to develop and is written over hundreds of pages in a series. Nope, not here! The reader is automatically dropped into the story in the first paragraph. There aren’t any long explanations of what is going on…the reader does have to make a lot of guesses and conclusions, but that was part of the fun of reading this short story. The mystery kept things interesting and pushed me to read on and on. It was seriously difficult to put down and I would totally like more please!
Since finishing Waiting on a Bright Moon I have added several of the author’s other stories to my TBR. If they are anything like this novella then I’m in for a real treat. If you’d like to read Waiting on a Bright Moon, you can do so here on Tor.com for free.
About the Author
J.Y. Yang is the author of the Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.Com Publishing (The Red Threads of Fortune, The Black Tides of Heaven, and two more slated for 2018 and 2019). Their short fiction has been published in over a dozen venues, including Uncanny Magazine, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons.
In previous incarnations, they have been a molecular biologist; a writer for animation, comics and games; and a journalist for one of Singapore’s major papers. Currently they are a science communicator with Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).