Yes, Bee is a Telepath (she has a chip in her neck suppressing that ability), but she has no memories of what misdeeds she got up to. Chela tells stories of a destroyed space ship, and thousands of victims, but somehow things don’t add up. And it’s not entirely clear why Chela is there, either – is she a (misguided) lover who went to prison with her love, is she a co-conspirator in these supposed crimes, or is she part of the jail? Of the punishment?
But Bee’s telepathy suppressor is not fully effective, and there’s another telepath nearby – and she learns more of what and where she is, and starts to work towards escape, something Chela is strongly opposed to.
I won’t spill more of the story, save for the fact that the 2nd half doesn’t play in the caves, and worked (not for that fact itself!) significantly better as a story for me. Maybe think of it as an overly long set-up before things kick off and get interesting? Either way we work through several layers of misdirection on part of the author (cleverly done, I hasten to add!) before all the pieces fit together and make sense. Even if the story leaves much to be told at the end…
The society this plays in is believable – technology-wise derived from ours into the near-future, and with a very realistic take on society’s reaction to telepaths in their midst. No, it’s not pretty, but all the more believable. The love story, playing out between Latina protagonists is at the core of the story, and makes the final twist even more surprising. Or maybe that was just me falling hook, line, and sinker for the author’s plotting and misdirection, of course.
But if strong non-white lesbian female characters taking the lead makes a story more interesting or attractive to you then you’re in for a treat here.
Vylar Kaftan is an American short-fiction writer (at least so far) with a good number of published stories under her belt, including an entry in Farah Mendlesohn’s amazing collection Glorifying Terrorism. She’s the winner of both Nebula and Sidewise Awards.
More Vylar Kaftan
Title: Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water
Author: Vylar Kaftan
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher: Tor Books
Publisher URL: http://www.tor.com
Publication Date: May 2019
Review Date: 190613
Topic: Prison Break
Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.