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A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  81 Ratings  ·  14 Reviews
Among the universe's civilizations, some conceive of the journey between stars as the sailing of bright ships, and others as tunneling through the crevices of night.  Some look upon their far-voyaging as a migratory imperative, and name their vessels after birds or butterflies....
ebook, 32 pages
Published August 10th 2011 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 20, 2016 Lata rated it really liked it
#17 short story read this month (all for free!)

Beautifully weird.

Each species' interstellar travel system is heavily integrated with a belief system, each of which has its own bizarro logic and texture and danger and beauty. I was intrigued by each species, and loved the author's use of language.

(The artwork for this story is lovely.)
Althea Ann
Feb 20, 2015 Althea Ann rated it it was ok
This reads like notes for a story, not a story. It’s a series of paragraphs, each describing an alien race or situation. Nice writing, but it doesn’t feel like a finished work.
Bryn Hammond
Apr 25, 2015 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
Shelves: imagined-fiction
She is my new SF divinity.
As others note, this one isn't a story but a Borges-style fiction. One senses commentary upon cultures.
James DiGiovanna
Aug 21, 2012 James DiGiovanna rated it really liked it
This is a really charming short story, reminiscent of Calvino or Borges in a way. It's a series of short vignettes describing various cultures that have invented interstellar travel. Each vignette is focused on the means of travel, but the cultures described have an oddity and originality that's most reminiscent of Calvino's "Invisible Cities." They're little world-sketches, more like settings or bits of history than stories. Very inventive and worth checking out.
Jan 30, 2017 Roslyn rated it really liked it

This isn't exactly a short story in the usual sense of the term, but more a series of riffs about the possible ways interstellar travel is viewed by various cultures in the universe. And what visions they are - imaginings of truly alien, mysterious ways of seeing the universe. But it's far, far too short and the ending felt quite abrupt. The whole thing feels incomplete, really. But it's quite stunning in both concept and prose and illustrates how interesting very short fiction can be.
Aug 31, 2016 Quartzen rated it really liked it
I've loved stories in the list/vignette/catalog format since I read Calvino's Invisible Cities as a teen, and this was a very cool one musing about several different possible starship drives. Nice little tweak at the ending too.
Nov 15, 2012 Shelly rated it really liked it
reminds me of JLB
Aug 08, 2014 Marco rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Interesting short novel, a collection of very brief portraits of different alien civilizations. The author describes what drives them, what are their dream, in a very poetic and allegoric way.
Dec 21, 2015 Ab rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi, stories
It is not really a classical story. Reminded me one of the info dumps by Weber.
Ian Lindstrom
Jun 30, 2014 Ian Lindstrom rated it really liked it
Not so much of a story. Short histories of places & civilizations described with quite a bit of creative imagery & ideas.
Would be great for artistic inspiration.
Jan 25, 2017 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Not at all what I expected (the digital version from the library never tells me how many pages something has...)

Completely enchanting - loved this like crazy. I wish there was more.
Renee Babcock
A series of vignettes about interstellar species and their attitudes toward space travel. Charming and weird. Makes me think the universe could be a really strange place.
Jun 30, 2016 Kelly added it
read in Year's Best SF 17 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer - 6/30/16
Nicholas Rogers
Nicholas Rogers rated it liked it
Nov 15, 2015
toni rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2012
Jesse rated it it was ok
Oct 30, 2016
Bogi Takács
Bogi Takács rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2014
Sherry rated it it was ok
May 11, 2014
Stephanie Horrex
Stephanie Horrex rated it it was amazing
Dec 07, 2016
Allan rated it really liked it
Mar 13, 2016
Buck rated it liked it
Jul 27, 2016
Claire rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2016
Jack Zhao
Jack Zhao rated it it was amazing
Jan 13, 2015
Annie rated it really liked it
Feb 24, 2016
Ani King
Ani King rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2017
Eric rated it really liked it
Sep 10, 2016
Brian Mcclain
Brian Mcclain rated it liked it
May 21, 2015
Dave rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2012
Terri Ravnik
Terri Ravnik rated it did not like it
Sep 29, 2014
Apr 18, 2017 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
Technically not poetry, but extremely poetic - I love the series of beautiful images, and the tag at the end calling out the violent/military bent of most SF.
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Yoon Ha Lee is an American science fiction writer born on January 26, 1979 in Houston, Texas. His first published story, “The Hundredth Question,” appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1999; since then, over two dozen further stories have appeared. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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