Obscura by Yoon Ha Lee is a short piece of speculative fiction in which a young person (it is not specified if this person is male or female) meets an older man who owns a mysterious camera. The man never takes pictures of people, the reason for which is not completely clear. It is revealed that the narrator/protagonist is only fourteen years old, so it makes sense that his/her/ze mom and dad ground them for spending un-chaperoned time with an older man who is a stranger.
This piece is about a few different things. It’s about how young people watch the relationship between their parents whither and fail. It’s about the strange attraction young people have to their elders as well as older people have to younger people–whether this is sexual or not within this story seems hinted at but never acted upon and certainly never voiced blatantly. Lastly, this is a story about the true selves we all have that are often not available to others. The camera, see, takes pictures of the negative space that people create–like old film cameras actually do. However, this camera makes the absence or negative real. That’s the speculative part of this piece. I’ve only ever read one other work by this author, but this is certainly the best thing I’ve read by them. (B-)