Though Empty of Nothing can be read and appreciated without its greater context, it is nevertheless an essential addition to the Constelis Voss universe. Kira Leigh’s short prequel gives us important insight to the inner workings of Alex’s mind prior to the events of Colour Theory. For those familiar with the existing story, the sudden shift in setting was jarring in a deliciously horrific way.
Alex, now an unnamed narrator, is trapped in a hellish, white-walled complex filled with those who are Empty, seeking to fill their Lack. On the shoulders of their jumpsuits is stenciled what they are missing. One reads, ‘Empty: Water’ and seeks another whose ‘Empty: Dry’ will complete them. Those who are coupled are permitted to leave the facility, those who are not must stay. Alex is designated as an ‘Empty: Nothing.’ Because ‘Nothing’ cannot be a fulfilled Lack, he is stuck in the complex. The only other option is to become Violent and to be expelled from the facility through a tube that shoots its passengers up to the unknown surface above.
Alex and Olive struggle against the Didacta, an all-seeing computer entity that monitors their every move. However, it is an unfeeling creature and provides necessary information for our protagonists as well.
Empty of Nothing is a delicious morsel of story, an appetizer before the main course of Constelis Voss. Colored with Alex’s characteristic piss and vinegar and Olive’s optimism, this addition to K. Leigh’s post-apocalyptic space opera will scratch any sci-fi addict’s itch for the unusual.
Aside from its part in the greater storyline, Empty of Nothing is an important meditation on finding one’s place in a world where every puzzle piece is expected to fit. While the rest of the Empty individuals are expected to fill their Lacks, to seek satisfaction in others, Alex poses a question - why not fill your own Lack? Or, in Alex’s case, why should anyone be considered ‘lacking’ in anything?
Empty of Nothing is a different beast from the Constellis Voss trilogy. It's an introspective look into a neurodivergent mind, embracing that their understanding of the world is different but not wrong. To the contrary, the author extolls that neurodivergence as a path to truth and perhaps liberation from the restrictions of a binary world. It's a very thorough exploration of a perspective often poorly understood by neurotypicals (including myself!).
It's a really great story to read after finishing the trilogy. It will get you to go back to Color Theory and start reading the original books all over again. Even without the preceding story's context, it's still a good mindtrip and exploration of neurodivergence but reading the whole trilogy beforehand makes it a real treat, especially as a prequel.
Empty of Nothing is mindfucky cyberpunk weirdness, and that's what you should love about it.
Whether you're a robot, a program, or a human, we all deal with garbage data. We can only create things with what we have and what we've learned. Garbage in, garbage out. That's all the harder to deal with when you feel EVERYTHING.
Find meaning along with our protagonists as they seek to understand a nonsensical system and realize that they're not the ones who are broken, in this prequel to the stunning trilogy Constelis Voss.
A truely incredible story with enlightening message. The prose is truely next level. Makes you think, cry, and laugh. Truely a wonderful thought provoking read.
A sci-fi novella about Sentient AI, unjust systems and finding love in a broken world.
A man wakes up alone in a surreal world of white rooms, small plants, cube-shaped food, curious tables and electronic dictionaries that hijack into neck ports. There is nothing here but empty space, empty people and the daily on/off grind. You’re born alone, feel only what you’re programmed to, hunt for your missing piece, die after coupling, and that’s that.
Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to play out. There’s just one problem: The unnamed protagonist Lacks nothing and feels enough for several thousand lifetimes. He’s an Error. Burdened with self-awareness and insanity, our brave/broken hero battles an absurd world with nonsensical rules until he meets someone like him. A person, a destiny, a memory, or maybe a promise, the two struggle in a closed system hell-bent on keeping them in-line. For what purpose? It’s complicated.
Let’s just say nothing is what it seems and maybe the machines really will save humanity from its ultimate enemy: Itself.
File Type: .epub (2 and 3), .pdf, .mobi
Genre: sci-fi, cyberpunk, lgbt, absurdist fantasy, psychological thriller, adult
Length: A breezy (but dense) read, EMPTY OF NOTHING is 12 chapters long, just shy of 60 pages in fixed-width pdf format, and roughly 10,800 words.
CW: This adult cyberpunk short story contains themes of mental illness, references to self-harm, a depiction of psychosis, implied sexual themes and humorous-violent imagery. While it has disturbing parts, it's also absurd, which tempers the work. Please enter it aware that we're on Brazil (85')-Meets-The-Cube ('97) hours and grapple with it accordingly. Good luck.
Note From the Author:
EMPTY OF NOTHING is a 12 chapter cyberpunk short story, a prequel to CONSTELIS VOSS—or perhaps a perpetual sequel—considering my robots play with time. But maybe it's more than that. Maybe EMPTY OF NOTHING is how social reality feels to an autistic person. Maybe it's how the game of good and evil really operates: the boringly cruel and the terrifyingly human, fighting for supremacy in an artificial world. Maybe it's even a story about forcing love to win at all costs.
In any case, this is imperfect queer fiction that examines an imperfect reality and asks: can we choose imperfect human goodness?
I think we can. I'd like to see us try.
— K. Leigh