Words as Tools: Review of “The Bridge” by Yukyan Lam


Sometimes you read a story that just makes you revel in the words themselves–words like obsidian, amaranth, and tenebrous. The words are sensuous, jewel-like and complementary to the plot. In this case, the words primarily speak to sight, but sight and emotion are very closely linked in Lam’s “The Bridge.” This story appears in Issue V of Bracken, a relatively new speculative fiction magazine that describes itself as “inspired by old world storytelling with roots in the wood’s shadows.” Lam’s story fits neatly within this mission statement. The world of her tale seems old, but it is threatened by shadows of resource-hoarding and prejudice.

The titular bridge is the central image of the story–a bridge that extends from the narrator’s country, which exports minerals (mined at great cost) via the narrator’s father, to the lands that have “harnessed the power of the sun, the winds, the waters.” The story follows the narrator’s apprenticeship in his father’s work as resources shrink and are met with less demand. In trying to understand the dynamics of trade, the narrator uncovers more and more questions, including those regarding secrets of his own family.

The story is mournful, but its allegorical notes strike true. Check it out for yourself.

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