While the title story of Ken Liu’s collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories is still my favorite of the ones I’ve read so far, “An Advanced Readers’ Picture Book of Comparative Cognition” could be a close second and depending what mood I’m in, the two might be tied.
As formal as the title of this story sounds, I don’t think I’ve read a science fiction story that is this wrought with emotion. A sense of loss and a sense of love permeate this story as a mother pursues a dream. Lui brilliantly lets the reader sympathize with the entire family:
Before their merger, they each yearned for the other; as they part, they part from the self. The very quality that attracted them to each other is also, inevitably, destroyed in their union.
Whether this is a blessing or a curse is much debated.
There are many ways to say I love you in this cold, dark, silent universe, as many as the twinkling stars.
The possibility of tears exist here.