A queer, mixed race writer working in a largely white, male field, science and conservation journalist Sabrina Imbler has always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in their debut collection profiles one such creature.
Braided through the fascinating account...is Imbler’s own narrative ... Weaving in personal experiences with sexual encounters whose tenor has changed to something sinister over the years, Imbler questions the way the stories we tell and the stories we hear affect what we understand about predators and about ourselves as potential prey ... Beyond their metaphorical significance, though, it’s the actuality of the sea creatures that Imbler beautifully captures and renders meaningful ... There is grief in these essays as well, for the changes that humanity has wrought upon the deep ... I found both solace and hope in Imbler’s ability to portray a world so foreign it’s barely legible to humans, and to bring forth the myriad ways of being that we might draw on to imagine our way forward through the depths.
Imbler mixes careful fragments of biography with selected bits of marine science to produce a unique and powerful debut, an alluring series of metaphors to describe what it means to be young and trans ... Imbler does a good job of building both the crabs’ and the clubgoers’ stories with precise and patient detail, allowing the reader to notice parallels without having to learn some kind of lesson. The method is a high-wire act, with many opportunities to go wrong, but the result is a mixture of excellent science reportage and affecting memoir. In the process, the book punches holes in old tropes of wildlife documentaries ... Imbler’s posture throughout the book is watchful and quiet, intelligent, self-aware, sometimes victimized, sometimes passive-aggressive. The cuttlefish chapter is resonant but reveals a natural weakness in the science writing ... The best passages in How Far the Light Reaches paint in the lightless depths.
A writer with penchant for lyrical, almost poetic prose as well as a science journalist, Imbler’s hybrid approach of embedding science and reportage in personal narratives and queer storytelling gives them a singular, striking voice ... I was instantly hooked ... While the writing is confident and sharp, Imbler also doesn’t pretend to have all the answers to the questions they raise. These are always my favorite kinds of personal narrative; the kind that excavate the self but also leave room for the unknown ... This is indeed queer science, a playful challenging of what science writing can be. Sea creatures: They’re just like us. Let Imbler show you how.