Tor.com, September 2018
“Triquetra” by Kirstyn McDermott
Reviewed by Gyanavani
This month Tor.com released two original stories, one fantasy and one science fiction.
In “Triquetra” Kirstyn McDermott picks up the story of Snow White some fourteen years after her much-publicized rescue from the hands of her evil step-mother. Snow White, now a mature woman and a young mother, is still surrounded by the same old dangers: the cold evil that pulses from the mirror and the knowing duplicity of the stepmother locked up in the castle.
There is also a new fear that Snow White is forced to face, the one emanating from her morally, and economically, bankrupt husband. In this struggle Snow White is forced to choose between keeping her daughter safe, or retaining her social position intact. She comes close to making the same choice that her stepmother had made but when she corrects herself she finds that help and love come from a quarter that she had always viewed with suspicion.
Rewriting a much-loved fairy tale is a difficult task. The characters should feel familiar but not boring. The plot should have shock value but must feel plausible to a mature reader. In these instances, and more, this story is brilliant and leaves a mark upon our soul.
Kirstyn McDermott analyzes the patriarchal shackles that hobble the feet of women and concludes that no fear of bodily harm from strong powerful men, no self-inflicted pain, can hold women back. When they break free, they climb into a glorious sky to a new future.
In “Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” Daryl Gregory takes two disparate events and twines them together in an unshakable bond. The first strand deals with the type, rate, and development of the alien invasion over a period of eighty-odd human years. The other is the life journey of the hero who asks and answers the fundamental question as to why the aliens were bombarding Earth with incredibly beautiful, and undeniably alien, plant forms.
We meet the hero, LT, nine times, in nine different defining moments in his life. In the beginning LT’s personal events take place along side of grand planet-wide developments. In 1975 the alien seeds bombard Earth on the night before his mother leaves him and his father. In 2002, these visitors from afar have rooted themselves securely in our world. When LT, after receiving a friendly tip, goes to check on his father, he finds him cocooned in a loving nest created by an alien plant form that his mother had sheltered from governmental wrath and destruction.
This powerful, thought-provoking story published in a time when, globally, racism, violence, and xenophobia are on the rise, presents us with a hero whose every decision—from adopting a four-week old Indonesian baby to caring full time for a cancer ridden father, from sacrificing a research career to soldiering bravely after his partner’s death—is informed by deep love.