“What wouldn’t we build; if loss was impermanent, happiness could be constructed, and our limits were boundless? ”
Eliane Boey roars onto the novels scene with her debut “Other Minds.” Not content at providing a single excellent novella, Boey presents a duo. Both are complex, rich, fascinating and emotionally investing, exploring themes of family, reality, and identity.
Starting with “Signal/Tracer,” Boey sets the story in a futuristic Singapore. People disconnect from reality, departing into a virtual world. Our heroine is Xi, an agent of the ruling Administration. Like any good cyberpunk, Xi is dealing with issues both external and internal, from the broader societal issues to her own family troubles.
The second novella, “Courier,” follows engineer Ming Wen. Stuck in a brutal system that prioritizes profit over safety, she places her daughter in a perilous situation and must deal with the resulting consequences.
Despite their differences in plot, Boey’s writing and themes are recognizable in both stories. Motherhood is a recurring motif throughout both books, along with the broader societal implications that technology can bring.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Boey skewers the oppressive systems that force hard choices on the innocent and corrupt them. She constructs her characters masterfully and gets into their heads to understand what drives them, even at the worst and lowest points.
The futuristic environments are crafted with great care, but Boey excels at emotional depth. These novellas are beautiful as they are heartbreaking, and “Other Minds” is an absolutely incredible pair of stories.