The best thing about the best thing that I read in all of 2017 is that it’s only 15 pages long, so you can read it too! “State Change” is a short story by Ken Liu. I was reading it while walking to a party but I stopped on the side of a busy Hong Kong street and leaned against a fence to finish it. How often does the power of a book literally drown out the world around you?
You can read “State Change” online here. So go read it! (And if you don’t, you can still read my thoughts below as I’ve not spoiled it.)
As the prose is relatively light it shouldn’t take you that long. But please take your time with it. Don’t rush it. Like all the best short stories every word slots into place with precise purpose, so savor each one. The story is a simple one about a reality almost identical to ours but with a twist so simple and unique it stopped me in my tracks. After you finish it, let your mind play with the central plot element of the story for a while. How would you appear in this universe? What about your best friends and close colleagues? I wish this story was part of common cultural knowledge so I could discuss these questions without having to explain them. Fingers crossed that Ken Liu’s short story collection “The Paper Menagerie” gets picked up by Netflix!