A woman struggles for survival and her sense of self in this hallucinatory novella.
Bee and her companion/lover, Chela, are imprisoned in a cave system on the distant world of Colel-Cab, spending their days in a challenging and miserable struggle to reach each supply drop before the local bug population destroys the goods they need to survive. The chip used to inhibit Bee and Chela’s telepathy has also apparently damaged Bee’s memory, and she remembers nothing about the crime she supposedly committed and little about her life before her imprisonment. Then Bee makes contact with someone outside the prison, bringing back memories of Bee’s beloved wife, Jasmine, inspiring the hope for escape, and casting doubt on both Chela’s identity and her true motivations. A person lost in a mental or virtual construct is a sci-fi plot element so common as to be pedestrian, and the worldbuilding is the merest sketch. All we know is that this is a near future where telepaths exist and are despised. This could be a small piece of a greater whole—the first few chapters of a novel of the great telepathic rebellion—but by itself, this story doesn’t add up to very much. The focus is on Bee’s journey of self-discovery as well as the relationship between Bee and Jasmine, but we don’t learn enough about Bee or Jasmine to get more than mildly invested in them. We know they’re in love, because the characters tell us they are. One is presumably meant to find some poetry or profundity in Bee’s mental landscape, but it’s not terribly substantial or even that interesting. At most, there’s a decent exploration of whether infidelity is possible when one spouse has amnesia and can’t even remember the wife she swore fidelity to.
Not enough there, there.