I finally finished The Dragon and the Stars, a collection of eighteen short stories by Chinese authors. That is to say, all of the authors have at least some Chinese heritage, though they’re from all over the world. Being Chinese is what unifies them. Each of the stories has some hint of this as well, though I would say one or two don’t require that any of the characters be Chinese. Of course, this is simply my uninformed perception. I am not in any way Chinese and thus not fully qualified to judge.
My impression of Chinese stories in general is that they are meant to be lessons. Not like European fairy tales where it’s pretty obvious you shouldn’t go through the woods by yourself. And nowhere near as simple as the monkey’s paw, where wishing gives you unintended consequences. My impression of Chinese works is that they are meant to be appreciated on at least two levels, and that there may always be more. I say “may” because, again, I don’t always see it.
Don’t get me wrong, these traits are not limited to any specific culture. To me, it simply resonates with Chinese works in particular because it seems to apply to absolutely everything Chinese. Including their legendary bureaucracy.
The stories run the gamut in timeline, in setting, and in characters. There are a number of stories dealing with Caucasians in various ways, which I take to be a point as to how omnipresent white people have made themselves, Americans in particular. There’s a reason why the world at large keeps an eye on our news, and it’s probably not a good thing. It also makes it entirely unsurprising that other political entities might attempt to rig our elections in their favor. Frankly, it’s more surprising that it hasn’t happened more…to the best of my knowledge. I am not the most informed person around and I am not a fan of the news nowadays, so don’t think what I say is the whole truth. I am no kind of authority and can only speak to what I perceive.
Anyway, stories. I think my favorites are “The Polar Bear Carries the Mail” by Derwin Mak, “Mortal Clay, Stone Heart” by Eugie Foster, and “Threes” by E.L. Chen. I think part of this is because these do have real conclusions, moreso than some of the other stories. Also because they are stories of love. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an aromantic asexual who thinks all you sexual people are driven by your hormones. But I appreciate stories with a strong emotional connection, regardless of whether or not it’s romantic. Love doesn’t only mean sex, guys. Parents and children love each other, and sex is only involved in particularly twisted relationships. Friends can, and should, love each other platonically. Love is a generally positive emotion that opens the door to positivity, and thus it should be encouraged.
This is also the anthology that’s pushed me over the mark. I have over one thousand unique short stories in my library now. I may continue with anthologies given that my attention span is mostly on packing. I have begun packing books, even. I have a lot more to do though.