Geometries of Belonging by R.B. Lemberg

A magic system of naming grids and deepnames, countries recovered enough from war to start another, and a healer in a small room who has vowed not to interfere.


16,893 words

Possible genres: Queer, Fantasy, Neurodiverse, Short Story

Why Recommend?

The magic system in Birdverse is a naming grid. People have names, the land has names, and these grids can be knocked askew in wars or traumatic events, leading to problems with memory or regrowth. The land of Laina, like the people themselves, have been damaged in many border wars. Healer Parét invented a method of healing the grid, but as long as the people misuse the land, Laina’s grid will never go back to the way it was before.

I do not want to force my will upon the world.

A survivor and a powerful force in a past war, Healer Parét has vowed not to interfere. If someone requests a healing, Parét will do only that, nothing more. Inaction is safe, peaceful, Parét thinks; their son did great damage with the same healing powers during the war. Consent is safe. Letting other people’s actions carry you along passively.

This is a story of course, so expect Healer Parét to drive some plot forward. Will the border wars start again as some near-retirement oligarch wants to see action?

The Author

(Read more Birdverse. More naming stuff! I always get excited about magic systems.)

R.B. Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Ukraine, Russia, and Israel to the US. Their stories and poems have appeared in Lightspeed‘s Queers Destroy Science FictionBeneath Ceaseless SkiesUncannySisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, and more. R.B.’s work has been a finalist for the Nebula, the Crawford, and other awards. Many of R.B.’s stories and poems are set in Birdverse, an LGBTQIA+-focused secondary world. Their Birdverse novella The Four Profound Weaves is forthcoming from Tachyon Press in 2020. You can find R.B. on Twitter at @rb_lemberg, on Patreon at, and at



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