Short Stories 366:204 — “Impostor Syndrome,” by Mari Kurisato

coverEverything about the collection Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time pretty much grabbed me and sucked me in, but the range of settings and styles in the collection was a great tribute to just how varied wonderful collections centred on identity can be. “Impostor Syndrome,” by Mari Kurisato, is a solid, futuristic-set tale replete with so many binaries (citizen vs. non-citizen, human-passing vs. human, virtual vs. biological) to construct, deconstruct, and blur, and I loved it.

The story itself is one of an attempted escape that’s been long in the planning for Aanji, a non-human who is trying to leave Earth but who—since she’s not human—isn’t allowed a position on one of the seed ships spreading humanity out away from the dying blue marble. But she has a plan, and it’s a risky, terrifying one, and it involves the acquisition of more human-like features, fooling systems designed to stop people from doing just that, and the aid of someone now living in a virtual environment, whose body is failing.

The world-building and immersion is incredibly smooth, the details dropped in the right amount to explain without going too far, and in a natural rhythm rather than a more overt, “as you know, Bob” style. The pacing is tight, leaving the reader running alongside Aanji and hoping she can make it even as that seems less and less possible with every complication thrown in her path. And I’d love to know more: about this world, about where the ship is going, about the artificial environments full of uploaded indigenous people. All of it.

A note: I found this story in Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An LGBT and Two-Spirit Sci-Fi Anthology, but I need to point out this is one of those anthologies I’ve had in my collection for, well, years. It’s been sitting on my iPad, and it was only when someone asked me if I’d read it that I went to look and found out the publisher is defunct due to the publisher, Bedside Press, being shuttered when the editor confessed to sexual misconduct and sexual assault. After I went looking online and hit that roadblock, I was looking through my digital library to see what other anthologies I had and found my copy. Accordingly, I’m going to suggest you check out anything by Mari Kurisato via her web-page, as I can find no information about where support for this anthology goes.

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