Clarkesworld #58, July 2011
“Trois morceaux en forme de mechanika” by Gord Sellar
“Frozen Voice” by An Owomoyela
Reviewed by Joseph Giddings
This issue starts off with the dark tale titled “Trois morceaux en forme de mechanika” (Three pieces in the shape of mechanika) by Gord Sellar. This isn’t a story with dialog, but rather at telling of the end of mankind, when the machines rise up and overthrow us, our own creations destroying mankind and all of our creations. Art, music, anything that humans created, lost forever to the bloodstained floors and burned out streets.
I found it to be a darkly disturbing tale of mankind facing its own hubris and accomplishments, about how our own creations could work against us. And even hiding in the remote corners of the world won’t last forever, as the overthrow of mankind will be complete, leaving none of the fleshy men to mourn the loss of their own society. The true irony of the story is by the end of this tale, we see that the machines have forged a new world that is not much unlike our own, with their own art and culture.
A compelling story, and worth taking the time to read.
From An Owomoyela we next have “Frozen Voice.” Sticking to a theme this month, this time we are shown a world where creatures known as “longlegs” have taken over the world, reducing humanity to a status not unlike pets. The longlegs force humans to live in reconstructed homes of paper-like material and watch over their charges with keen interest. They take care of their human charges, making sure they are fed and healthy. However, they fear the “Frozen Voice.” We know them as books.
Their mother missing, two children flee their home to find her, going to a place outside of the city known as the cairn. There, books and bodies of dead longlegs are left, forgotten. This story, mostly a tale about the society they now live in, explores what it is to live in this world, along with the language that the humans are forced to speak and how they still maintain their own language as much as possible, to help retain any shred of their former humanity.
Owomoyela has made a fascinating world that I know I would love to read more about.