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A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  25 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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3.54  · 
Rating details
 ·  140 ratings  ·  25 reviews


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Lata
Dec 20, 2016 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 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.
Igrowastreesgrow
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, short-story, free
Not really much to it. If it was an actually story I might have enjoyed it more.
Peter Tillman
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Eh. An odd pick for the Best-of Tor.com anthology, imo. 1.5 stars, courtesy roundup. But try it for yourself, as mine is a minority opinion.
Roslyn
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5

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.
Bryn Hammond
Apr 25, 2015 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.
Sophie (Blame Chocolate)
Nov 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Honestly, this wasn't bad per se. It just didn't do anything for me.

For one, I had no idea what it was about. It just kept going and going, adding specific lingo, as if the reader was aware of previous information. Because that's what this felt like, an introduction to something, not a short story.

It was so short, yet it felt like ages before I could finish it. I kept having to go back and read the same paragraph again because my eyes had simply glazed over and my brain had stopped accepting v
...more
Cass
Jul 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3,5
James DiGiovanna
Aug 21, 2012 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.
c,
listen, yoon ha lee is actually the king of science fiction the only reason i'm rating this 3 stars rather than higher is because it's so short.
Hélène Louise
I've read one book by the author ("Ninefox gambit") . I rather appreciated it, even if it was very foggy (strange fantasish science, action which seemed to be happening... nowhere), because the characters were great and the story was interesting. In this novella there are no characters and no story either. It's just a list, author's notes, ideas... I tried to read through but finally gave up: unintelligible for the reader I am.
Quartzen
Aug 31, 2016 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.
Shelly
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
reminds me of JLB
Ellana Thornton-Wheybrew
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks-i-own
Read as a part of Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2011 Edition

This feels like a section of a textbook that I want to continue reading. As it stands, I have no idea what it is about, but I want more of it.
Amy Mills
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aliens, standalone, sf
A sort of collection of thoughts on how various civilizations might manage FTL travel. Reminds me a bit of Le Guin's Changing Planes, but much shorter and more limited in scope.

Enjoyable diversion.
Maria
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Anaya
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I hunger for stuff like this; it taps into something rare. Borgesian
Paul
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
It's more a scratchpad of different ideas, but you can see the ideas behind the Machineries of the Empire starting to form here. Worth a skim
Jorg
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Weird and beautiful, an evocation of Borges (almost a tribute?)
Marco
Aug 08, 2014 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.
Ab
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: stories, scifi
It is not really a classical story. Reminded me one of the info dumps by Weber.
Ian Lindstrom
Jun 30, 2014 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.
Caroline
Jan 25, 2017 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.
Kelly
Jun 30, 2016 added it
read in Year's Best SF 17 edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer - 6/30/16
Nicholas Rogers
rated it it was amazing
Nov 15, 2015
toni
rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2012
Ashlen
rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2018
Michael Horvath
rated it really liked it
Sep 13, 2017
Pexa
rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2017
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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.