James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

Try Something New

Inhalations

By S. Qiouyi Lu 

15 May, 2020

Doing What the WFC Cannot Do

3 comments

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

S. Qiouyi Lu’s 2020 Inhalations is a collection of short stories, poetry, and non-fiction pieces. It assembles all of S. Qiouyi Lu’s work published between 2015 and 2019.


Although the collection is only about two hundred pages, it includes some three dozen pieces. Accordingly, I am not going to go through this work by work; the resulting review would be longer than some of the pieces. 

Most of the pieces are of high quality. Some of the more whimsical pieces like Introduction to the Journal of Interplanetary Lycan Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1” didn’t work for me, humourless as I am, but they might work for others. Nor did I much like the poems, but my readers know that I have, um … issues with poetry. 

The collection leans towards fantasy rather than science fiction.

I particularly liked:

  • Her Sacred Spirit Soars”, in which two patients subjected to casually inhumane medical procedures bond, 
  • As Dark As Hunger”, whose protagonist is torn between doing the right thing and keeping the woman with whom she is smitten happy, and 
  • A Complex Filament of Light”, in which two damaged people connect at the end of the world1.

The non-fiction works include reviews and essays. The author’s interests aren’t mine, but there are overlaps. Lu liked All the Birds in the Sky , which for some reason I haven’t read; the review suggested that this might be a possibility for my Mt. Tsundoku. I turned to reviews of books I had read—The Poppy War , A Hero Born , The Sisters of the Vast Black —to compare reactions, and also to see what superior reviewing techniques I could crib what Lu was like as a reviewer. 

General impressions: Lu likes more literary works than I do, and reviews in a more lit-crit manner; I think they might have a broader perspective on the field of speculative fiction. More humanities, less orbital mechanics. 

They are a damn good writer. Their material resonates; some of their stories have been seared into my long-term memory. I’ll re-buy this if it ever comes out on paper. 

Inhalations is available here.

1: End of the world as in Antarctica, not as in apocalypse. 

I suppose that, strictly speaking, spherical worlds don’t have an end as such. Or maybe they have an arbitrarily large number of ends.