Rich Horton reviews “Immersion” in the August Locus:
Aliette de Bodard’s “Immersion”, in June’s Clarkesworld, addresses cultural imperialism. As we have come to expect from de Bodard, the story is thought-provoking and challenging, and built around a nice SFnal idea. The story is set on a space station inhabited by apparently Asian-descended people. Quy’s family runs a restaurant often catering to “Galactic” tourists. The central SFnal maguffin is “immerser” technology, which helps people take on different appearances, and speak different languages, to deal with people of other cultures. Quy uses it, begrudgingly, to deal with customers. Her more rebellious sister is more interested in understanding how the technology works. And, more affectingly, one visitor is the wife of a Galactic man, and she seems to use the tech to fit in better with her husband’s milieu. But this only distances her from her own self, her own history. All this is very intriguing, and quite thought-provoking, but the story doesn’t fully work: it seems a bit too programmed – and some aspects of the setting don’t quite fit. The space station, in particular, seems unnecessary (though perhaps this story fits into a wider future history where it all fits together).
Hahaha, I must protest. Space stations are always necessary for a good plot!