My Birdverse novelette “Geometries of Belonging” has been reviewed by Ada Hoffmann for her Autistic Book Party series and by Paige Kimble for their Unmonstering series. These are both in-depth, thoughtful engagements with the story and especially with the story’s focus on disability, neuroatypicality, and mental illness. I am extremely grateful to these and other reviewers who truly get this story and what it is doing, for whom it works not just a s a piece of fantasy writing but as a commentary on the lives we live.
In “Geometries”, Healer Parét, the protagonist, is a mind-healer who can magically cure people of all sorts of mental ailments. But Parét’s cures are imperfect, and impermanent, and often have to be repeated – and, most importantly, Parét never heals without the patient’s consent.
This gets Parét into trouble when he meets a genderqueer autistic teenager named Dedéi – a patient whose parents and grandparents want a cure (both for their gender and for their neurotype), but who desperately and emphatically does not want to be cured, and is capable of saying so, loudly and repeatedly.
Approximately zero story time is spent on the decision of whether to perform or not perform a cure. It is obvious to Dedéi that they do not want to be cured, and it is obvious to Parét that he will not perform mind-healing on a patient like Dedéi who does not want it. The conflict in the story comes, not from agonizing over what it would be appropriate to do with Dedéi, but from the fallout and social consequences of Dedéi and Parét both sticking to their principles.
Rose is also in conversation here with the Miracle Cure narrative in SFF, the remaking of disabled characters to fit into the normal box. But the truth of it, their own knowledge of this experience and their own feelings that are simpatico with mine and so many others’…that is what really makes ‘Geometries’ sing (like bird song, perhaps) for me.
Thank you, Ada and Paige, for your thoughts. It is a thrill that my Birdverse work continues to resonate.
As a bonus, Charles Payseur pairs “Geometries of Belonging” with mulled wine on The Monthly Round at Nerds of a Feather:
A story about age and consent, about power and choice, about strength and healing, “Geometries of Belonging” by Rose Lemberg is a mulled wine, a drink best served hot with a dense rush of flavors and a comfort for cold autumn nights.
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