Review: Conservation of Shadows

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee

Conservation of Shadows is a collection of short stories by Yoon Ha Lee. Like shadows, many of the stories are furtive in nature, requiring the reader to chase them from page to page. No two stories are alike. The point of view and tense often change, but there is a consistent theme of patterns and forms expressed through various arts—poetry, music, calligraphy, art and dance. Lee’s imagination is not bound by these forms. The stories range from otherworldly, to an alternate history feel, to science fiction. All read a little like fantasy, though, with the repetition of the artful themes.

The entries that caught my attention were The Shadow Postulates, The Bones of Giants, Swanwatch and Effigy Nights.

Simply, The Shadow Postulates is a story of mathematics and love. A student searches for facts to support her thesis. Along the way, she takes lesson from life, and, in particular, her roomsister. She examines relationships and finds correlations between these and her research.

My favourite story would be The Bones of Giants. Tamim, the son of a necromancer, is on a quest to stop a sorcerer from destroying his world. He accepts the aid of another necromancer who teaches him how to animate and control the bones of giants. They ride the massive skeletons into battle, controlling their movements with gestures that can be captured and preserved by a form of calligraphy.

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