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All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
Rebecca Traister

The Man Who Bridged the Mist

The Man Who Bridged the Mist - Kij Johnson I loved this. Be warned however, I deeply love things that are pretty damn subtle. Other people often complain to me that the stories I think are gorgeously understated seem to them to be just dull as paste. So if you are a fan of fireworks... hm.

For me however, this novella goes straight to my happy place. Elegant, lithe, deceptively simple prose about people doing their honorable best without hoopla or pat answers. Nobody standing on cliffs with their hair blowing in the fans declaiming about the destiny of mankind, nobody flinging themselves into a volcano for love, no deus coming creaking along in his pasteboard and gilt machina to solve problems at the very last minute. Just a nice guy building a bridge, getting to know the people of the villages that will be linked by the bridge, falling in love.

Subtly underpinning that simple story are wonderful ideas about right livelihood, and the human need to test and challenge oneself against the world, what is lost and gained by so doing, how to love without ownership, what its like to be in a community but not of it, and mmmm, lovely understated intelligent yummy deliciousness.

At one point the title character looks out into the mist that he is building a bridge over and:

"Deep in the mist he saw shadows that might have been a Big One, or something smaller or a thickening of the mist, and then, his eyes learning what to look for, he saw more of the shadows, as though a school of fish were down there. One separated and darkened as it rose in the mist until it exposed its back almost immediately below Kit.

It was dark and knobby, shiny with moisture, flat as a skate, and it went on forever - thirty feet perhaps, or forty, twisting as it rose...The creature rolled and then sank and became a shadow and then nothing as the mist closed back over it.


That's what this story was like for me. A simple tale of a guy going to a town to build a bridge, but rolling in the mist of that simplicity, big important ideas that slip up to the surface and sink back again, informing the ordinary tenor of days with magic.