The short story form is especially valuable for young adult readers because it offers characters, situations, and ideas that can be absorbed in one sitting. Short stories can introduce the complexities of fiction to busy young people occupied with school studies, extracurricular activities, social lives, and the hard work of growing up. Bear is a master of short fiction, and his speculative stories on science strongly attract young readers.
"Tangents" presents the story of a boy, an outsider with an empty family life, who meets two eccentrics surviving unconventional lives far from their homeland. Pal Tremont, a young Korean adoptee, finds that his musical gifts are complemented by the mathematician Peter Tuthy, a refugee from England, who was persecuted there for being homosexual. Together they open the unseen world of the next dimension beyond the normal one that people experience everyday, and they discover extra dimensional beings who have never before noticed humans.