Waiting On A Bright Moon by Jy Yang
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.
This is a short story, only 40 pages, but it packs a lot of punch for a short piece!
The writing is stunningly lyrical, as fits in with the story; Xin opens her gateway with song, communicating to her love on the central world, ferrying goods and keeping the empire connected. But when a dead body comes through, there are questions – and a chance Xin to meet one of the station’s starmages, mysterious and powerful, and involved in far more than Xin suspects. The story is of rebellion and passion and loneliness, and it’s hauntingly beautiful.
But…it is too short. While I appreciated where it breaks off, I feel like the story had only just started; it’s not a conclusion, and it’s not even threads coming together before the story’s on the last page. This is a brief glimpse into the world of a set of characters that I hope Yang is revisiting (the two novellas of The Tensorate Series have just come out, but I don’t know if they are the same world).
It’s an elegantly-written and amazingly detailed world, full of (for Western audiences) unusual touches, and is definitely worth reading : you will be left wanting more.