We have all brushed against the limits of communication. We have all wished we could somehow share our inner experiences without having them polluted by the space between our minds and the minds of others. Unity enters the space of that frustration and moves beyond it. What if, the novel asks, we could merge with others?
There is an argument to be made that this novella should either have been a novel, to give all of its storyline elements more depth, or else markedly reduced in both size and scope, to zero in on the most vital components. And yet, I’m inclined to think that “novella” was the correct size for this piece, despite all its moving parts.
Marisa Mercurio: Over the past few years, I’ve devoted my evenings to catching up on classic horror movies. Or, more accurately, classics and schlocky forgotten flicks with lots of flesh and unrealistic gore. Though I don’t feel any of the nostalgia for the 1980s that makes Stranger Things so popular, I confess that the decade’s colorful and brazen take on horror appeals to me more than any other era. So, even though I’m dreadful at keeping up with new movies, I made sure to sit down to watch Prano Bailey-Bond’s debut film Censor as soon as it was released this year.
Prashanth Gopalan: As though to demonstrate that time is an arbitrary concept conceived to give order and meaning to an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world, the broad themes of 2021 felt like a continuation of those of 2020: more economic uncertainty, more political turbulence, more teetering on the edge of a slow-motion ecological collapse. My response was to seek refuge in other worlds—contemporary, historical, real, fantastical—that I cannot (yet) travel to.
I started off with Julia von Lucadou’s The High-Rise Diver, a novel set in a dreary, corporate, digital surveillance society remarkably like our own, where a star psychiatrist and a celebrity athlete square off in a battle of wills.
As long-time readers will recall, it is our habit to begin a new reviewing year by asking the Strange Horizons reviewers to talk about the other things they read, watched, and played during the previous year. Last year, I said: "During 2020 most of us have leaned harder than ever on books, TV, and games of one sort or another to fill our time," and that has been true, too, of 2021, the second year of the pandemic. This year, however, many of us, myself included, have struggled at times to read or watch anything at all, and when we did, we often turned to comfort reading/viewing of one sort or another.
Strange Horizons is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. We publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, and art. For more information, see our about page. All material in Strange Horizons is copyrighted to the original authors and may not be reproduced without permission.