The final week! If you haven't donated yet, there's not much time left. You can even do it before you read this round-up of our August stories.
Art © 2014 by Jordan Hourie
- "Resurrection Points" by Usman T. Malik (podcast)
- "The Air We Breathe Is Stormy, Stormy" by Rich Larson (podcast)
- "Cold as the Moon" by Sunny Moraine (podcast)
Let's start with Lois Tilton's Locus Online take:
The setting is Karachi, Pakistan, where there seems to be a significant Christian minority, a population under increasing threat from Muslim intolerance. Daoud’s best friend is Christian and his own mother, secretly, was Christian before her marriage. The cadaver on which he practices was also a Christian and bears the signs of torture. These circumstances dominate the narrative and supply a horror that should strike readers more forcefully than the notion of animating the dead. These anatomical details are well done and add authority to the piece. Most horror isn’t so well grounded.
The Drunken Odyssey liked it:
... the unexpected and ambiguous ending leaves the reader with a sense of both disaster and catharsis that is spellbinding. I’m not sure that the story can properly be called horror or even fantasy, but it handles its examination of both the regenerative and destructive abilities of faith with a supernatural edge, foggy genre lines, and a literary finesse that is a thrill to read.
And on Tangent duty for this month was Louis West:
Pick any random spot in the world where two or more religious faiths try to co-exist, and the same story plays out over history, time and again. A sad commentary on the failure of healing faith. Also, Daoud’s use of his own bioelectric potential to animate dead flesh reminds me of Luigi Galvani’s 18th century research into electrical reanimation and, of course, Mary Shelley’s story, Frankenstein. A compelling tale and definitely recommended.
Elizabeth Hand and Ellen Datlow also recommend it:
— Elizabeth Hand (@Liz_Hand) August 9, 2014
Bravo to Usman Tanveer Malik for his terrific story "Resurrection Points" in Strange Horizons this month. http://t.co/q0qyHZ5qlQ
— Ellen Datlow (@EllenDatlow) August 9, 2014
The Air We Breath is Stormy, Stormy
This one wasn't a hit for Louis West:
How much of this is symbolism—is the selkie real or just a figment of Cedric’s drug-addled loneliness—is unclear. Certainly the selkie is a construct used to get Cedric to rethink his life choices, and without her this wouldn’t be a fantasy tale. Outside of that, the selkie seems superfluous to the primary story, which is that of a loser running from himself until he can’t run anymore. It’s an unimaginative retelling of the old story about coming to terms with the imagined demon in the mirror, about being afraid of what you might become as opposed to fighting for what you yearn to be. I would pass.
Lois Tilton detected the hand of the author:
I’d like this one better with less obscurity. The author is coy about the exact nature of Cedric’s injury and how this affects his relationships with both females in the story. At the end, it’s Cedric who gets the epiphany, so that we suspect that the author has put Volkova on the rig just for that purpose, without agency of her own.
And Charlotte Ashley at Apex reflects on the predicament of the protagonist:
On the one hand, it’s a powerful statement about how we limit our future with our fears, but on the other, Cedric’s fears dissipate too easily. His early treatment of the woman from the sea helps establish his character as fundamentally good, despite his fears that he might become his father, but his brief, empty affair with her, followed by the ease with which he returns to the idea of loving Violet, takes a lot of the weight out of his personal struggle. The woman from the sea shows him the mirror, then appears to swim off with his fears. What did he offer in trade? What did this redemption cost him? The lingering sense is that Cedric was not that badly trapped after all. It’s hard to feel too sorry for him.
Cold as the Moon
Manic Pixie Dream Worlds liked it:
“Cold as the Moon” by Sunny Moraine, in which protagonist Susan loses her family to the cold and solitude, broke the hiatus. ... This one’s quite emotionally resonant, particularly if you’ve ever watched your family break down, and is told in the very engaging — and very real — voice of an adolescent girl.
And it was recommended by Lois Tilton:
It seems safe to assume that Daddy has left the family, stranding his daughters on the ice to die – or at least Sharon’s indictment is pretty compelling. For the rest, we might assume imagination or hallucination, or else believe in the bear thing. In this case, it’s the ambiguity that makes the story.
But it didn't work for Louis West:
There is no clear line between the story’s allegory and the girl’s own reality, although given the depth of her grief, I would expect that. It’s a harsh tale, and I recognize that such grief is all-consuming. However, I found the story to be a bit indulgent, since it only focuses on this aspect of the girl’s life. No doubt, that is the story’s purpose, just not one I found compelling.
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