A famous “mind-healer”, known as Parét, is asked to heal the grandchild of his lover’s enemy. When the patient refuses to be cured, Parét continues to speak to them in order to unravel the full story.
Why this story?: My friend Corey recommended it to me, along with the rest of Lemberg’s writings.
Note: Geometries of Belonging is a story within Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #183. This review is only for Lemberg’s piece.
I normally have a problem with high fantasy short stories. Most of the times, it’s because it’s extremely difficult to build up an entire world while still making it interesting in such a short time. The moment you begin reading the short, you will be drawn into the story with how Lemberg automatically alludes to the magic system and the world. While the magic system and the world is complex, the way Lemberg approaches it leaves you with no confusion at all, and in fact leaves you wanting to know more.
Because Geometries of Belonging is focused on certain characters, there is also a lot of political inclusion that also helps introduce the world to you, all the while staying within the mindset of our protagonist, Parét. Parét is such a neutral character, and described in such neutral ways, that his gender was at first not clear to me, and I took him as being non-binary until it was clarified that he indeed identified as male. I loved that aspect so much, even if it was not intended, because it allowed for me to view the character as I saw them, even as they were being built and developed before my eyes.
Parét is a healer of the mind who refuses to heal unless consent is given, which is lovely. There was a lot of inclusive language used throughout, including the use of “zha” pronouns. Lemberg created a fantastical world that was not only intriguing and beautiful, but also amazingly diverse. Parét’s dedication to his patient, Dedéi, is also beautiful in how he listens to their struggles with understanding.
Speaking of Dedéi; their part in the story hit me very hard. Especially their repetition of “I do not wish to be remade”. Dedéi is written on the autistic spectrum, as well as non-binary, and their family does not accept them. They actually want Parét to heal them of being non-binary and autistic, and all I could think of was how I don’t want to face undoing by not being who I am. Dedéi represents all of my fears and worries, and the way Lemberg portrays them is truly heartbreaking.
Final Rating: ★★★★★
Lemberg’s Geometries of Belonging is a very hard hitter. Lemberg pulled no punches and wrote honestly about real world problems while still conforming them to their masterfully built fantasy world. Not only this, but Parét, the mind healer, suffers from PTSD and is in a relationship with someone with a complicated gender. They, who is never named, and only referred to as Parét’s Master, is said to present as male, but had previously been identified as non-binary. In the story, they are shown to struggle with this, as well as people mocking them for it.
Would I Recommend?
Absolutely. I would recommend this one to lovers of fantasy and diversity, as well as non-binary readers. Lemberg’s writing has something for everyone, and it is not to be missed.
Published: September 22nd, 2015
Publisher: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Page Count: 73
Genre: High Fantasy/Fantasy
Synopsis: via Roselemberg.net/
Parét, a famous mind-healer, is asked to cure a young autistic patient – but his patient does not consent to be cured. Meanwhile, Parét uncovers a carefully wrought intrigue against his lord and lover.