Freedom is Space for the Spirit by Glen Hirshberg

Freedom is Space for the Spirit by Glen Hirshberg
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (54 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“Freedom is Space for the Spirit” by Glen Hirshberg is a fantasy about a middle-aged German, drawn back to Russia by a mysterious invitation from a friend he knew during the wild, exuberant period in the midst of the break-up of the Soviet Union. Upon his arrival in St. Petersburg, he begins to see bears, wandering and seemingly lost.

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There’s nothing quite like reconnecting with old friends after being apart from them for many years. One of the things this tale did really well was capture all of the different and sometimes conflicting emotions someone can feel in that situation. Thomas, the main character, seemed to feel everything from excitement to a vague sense of disappointment over how all of their lives had diverged since they last met and who everyone had become now that they were well into adulthood. Seeing him reminisce about old times and create new memories was definitely a highlight for me.

It felt like there was a metaphor in this story that I didn’t quite have enough information about to understand. The thought of bears wandering around calmly in a city that seemed to have to accepted their presence grabbed my attention immediately. I couldn’t wait to find out why so many folks were comfortable around such large and potentially dangerous animals, so it was disappointing when the answers to my questions about this plot twist were hard to find. I would have really liked to have more clues about what the bears represented and why most folks didn’t seem surprised by them at all.

Mr. Hirshberg’s close attention to detail was what made the setting and characters come alive in my imagination. He did a very good job of describing what Russian society was like and why the unusual bears that began wandering around St. Petersburg were so unique. While I can’t go into details about these things without giving away spoilers, I did appreciate the fact that he spent so much time showing the audience what they were like.

If you love science fiction that’s open to many different interpretations, Freedom is Space for the Spirit might be right up your alley.

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