In Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea, Sarah Pinsker proves her worth in salt as a human dictionary.
In this short story collection, published by Small Beer Press (who are also the lovely owners of my favorite local bookstore, Book Moon), Pinsker made me take a hard look in the mirror. I had to admit that my everyday snobbery at dismissing science fiction and fantasy as pulp were unfounded (aside: another book that whipped me into shape was Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life and Others, the titular story which inspired the movie Arrival).
I feel as if I’ve been missing out on so much. I was absolutely floored by Pinsker’s brilliance: how does she know so much? How is it so believable? She code switches between astronaut speak, deep space travel, music, and farming without skipping a beat. I literally have NO IDEA how she makes some of these stories work.
My favorites were the bookended stories: the tale of the robotic arm that misses being a road (believe me, it makes sense when you read it) and the people convention that mingles everyone who is the same person from various points in interdimensional time (haven’t you always wanted to meet all of your futures of the decision you didn’t make?).
This collection was beautiful, ambitious, and sometimes a little raw, but chock full of meaning that helped me relate back to the banalities of everyday life. The only story I couldn’t swallow was the one about the narwal, but all the others were readable, believable, and beautifully imagined.
If you’re looking for more wonderfully written stories of similar spirit, I’ve also enjoyed anything written by Kelly Link (special shout out to Summer People, in the collection Get in Trouble), Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, and Yukiko Motoya’s The Lonesome Bodybuilder. I’m currently a few stories in Ambiguity Machines (another Small Beer print!), which are dense and require the right head space, but I’m enjoying them so far. Lastly, if you want a taste but not a deep dive, I recommend a zine and a chocolate, conveniently packaged as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet–charming, fun, and playful.