I started digging through the boxes of paperbacks that have been sadly relegated to the back of our closet for a couple of years since there’s no space in the bookshelves. I’ve been sorting them into “keep”, “to read”, and “pass on” piles and this is the first one I’ve read all the way through from the “to read” pile.

Visible Light is a collection of fantasy and science fiction short stories by Ms. Cherryh. They are surrounded by bits of a framing tale that has the author accompanying a reader on a routine commercial space flight whose long periods of boredom allow the two to discuss the stories in a sort of Platonic dialogue.

In “Cassandra”, afflicted by visions of destruction who thinks herself crazy finds to her dismay that she is not.

“The Threads of Time” explores what happens when time travel causes history to unravel.

“Companions” shows a mission to a planet rich in vegetation, but lacking any sort of motile or intelligent life. An unknown and mysterious plague takes the lives of all but one of the crew and he carries on with only the ship’s AI for company. Unless they were wrong about the lack of intelligent life.

“A Thief in Corianth” is a fairly standard swashbuckling fantasy only the thief is a woman, but one who operates mostly within the limitations of women in the standard pseudo-middle ages fantasy setting.

“The Last Tower” is a short short about the end of a war.

“The Brothers” is a Campbellian hero’s journey with some satisfying twists and appropriately tricksy fae.

The stories shared in my mind a distant and melancholy tone, but all of them have rich metaphorical grounds that echo off real life in interesting ways.