A black background with an ipad showing the golden cover of Waiting on a Bright Moon.
Book Review

Book Review: Waiting On A Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang

One of the best things about being a reader is finding voices so incredibly well-knit and unique, they strike a cord through the essence of your being and make you believe in strange, beguiling fictional worlds that you end up resonating with more than your own. Neon Yang/J.Y. Yang is that voice for me today.

Waiting on A Bright Moon is a sci-fi tale set in an outer-space universe seamlessly woven with Chinese/East Asian elements. It is the story of Xin, a young woman previously known Tian — “An empty field, a paddy waiting to be filled.” — who loses both, her name and her love when she’s captured to be trained as an ansible. It is a role that is forced upon gifted women “of a certain closeness,” who use their magical singing abilities to open portals that connect the originworld of the Imperial Authority and its colonies.

“You learn nothing as ansibles. They teach you to be nothing but a conduit.”

Waiting on a Bright Moon, Neon Yang

Xin’s world is thrown into disarray when one day a dead body is flung through the open portal and she meets the Ouyang Suqing, one of the four starmages, a position so powerful, their word is considered law. As their connection grows, so do the seeds of rebellion and with the fear of the “execution” drawing near, the two women are drawn into a conspiracy to overthrow the brutal authoritarian regime.

There is so much nuance packed in this short story, it’s almost impossible to capture all the shades in a single reading. The violently rigid world is built upon layers of old superstition and prejudices and countless hidden corners full of tenderness and love. There’s war and despair and the public horror of sickening punishments in the name of justice. There’s queer love, magic, hope and threat of having it all taken. There are the clusters of ansibles who are bound to each other by song magic and “…a shared grief, a common wound. Being ripped apart so that there’s something to put back together.”

Binding it all the absolutely lyrical masterpiece of a prose. Told in second person POV, the writing is so lush and mesmerizing, I had to pause between sentences just for the pleasure of rereading my favorite lines. This story is packed with action, emotion and stellar LGBTQIA2SP+ rep.  I adored the incorporation of original Mandarin & I’ve just learned the songs are real so I’m off to binge and reread. 

The story is available to read for free on Tor website here.

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