“The Shapes of Us, Translucent to your Eye”

When the Unlikely Academia call came out, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write anything at all. I’m not very good at writing for specific calls. But then I read Amal El-Mohtar’s story Pockets, and I sat down and this story came out of me.

The Shapes of us, Translucent to your Eye” is a story told from a point of view of a junior professor of color who is also an immigrant, inspired by Warda from Amal’s story.

Here’s a review from Charles Payseur, who is speedy and wonderful:

This is an amazing way to close out the issue, with the shortest story so far. In it, Warda is a university professor at a time when being a university professor is kind of one of the worst things to be. Having seen the harrowing that higher education, that education in general has seen in my own state, I can imagine that elsewhere the story is similar. […] Warda’s struggles to fight against, to rise despite, is an inspiring gesture, inspiring because it flies in the face of those who would say that it’s not enough, that why bother if it can’t fix anything. When really the battle is lost if you’re taking life pass/fail. It’s not about the grade but the knowledge, the power that language holds, the power that education and fellowship holds. (read the full review here).

It’s a very short story, and I hope you give it a read.

Julia August’s story in the same issue, “Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood,” is a highly enjoyable lighter take on Unlikely Academia – recommended.

Leave a Reply

Please review and abide by the Commenting Policy.


R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards.

New: subscribe to the Birdverse newsletter!

Support Birdverse on Patreon!

Header image courtesy of Likhain.

Search this site

Recent Posts