“The Captain’s Sphere” by Malcolm S. Schmitz
Reviewed by Herbert M. Shaw
This month, Crossed Genres explores the use of pronouns as an element of storytelling. English is one of very few languages whose nouns are not distinguished as masculine or feminine by either their structure or their definite and indefinite articles that precede them. In the case of personification, pronouns play a great role in deciding if the character is male, female, singular, plural, in possession, or the distinction between subject and object of the sentence. This is CG’s last issue before they shut down due to “running out of funds” and a personal complication by one of its co-publishers. The final three offerings of 2015 share the stories of a sorceress who changes her appearance to mimic the boy she was born as, an extraterrestrial land where the classes are separated and distinguished by numbers, and a mysterious power granted to a boy who sees the lives of others through different frames of glasses.
“Captain’s Sphere” by Malcolm S. Schmitz
In order to capture a throne of angels, a girl chooses to use magic to transform her appearance the better to get a crew to respect her. Ava is a master of disguises. the “spheres” alluded to in the title reference Schmitz’s take on Orwellian speech patterns, i.e. Captain’s Sphere would denote the mannerisms, including those of speaking, fit for addressing a captain, whereas the family sphere causes Ava to adopt a different behavior pattern.
Schmitz said in an interview with CG that this is part of a larger novel that he is working on. It just happened to tie in with the theme of pronouns, in this case being used to identify the sex of the character. Though the pronoun use has little impact on the adventure itself, it lends well to the underlying theme of identity that Ava faces every day.
“At the Sixes’ and Sevens’” by Sara Kate Ellis
The second story in CG’s last issue use pronouns in the form of titles that denote classes by group size. The possessive or genitive forms of the numbers refer to the homes of those living in a community where these classes live. The higher your number, the greater your echelon (and seemingly your subject circle).
So when a group of Threes—a monogamous Catholic couple with a child named 2—visit their neighbors the Sixes, a cultural argument is bound to occur.
While the numbering is relatively easy to understand, the uses in story dialogues make it difficult to follow. Somehow a discussion of polygamy manages to create an argument that ultimately leads to the story’s climax, whose resolution is unclear except that there may be no end in sight. An unfortunate drawback to a heartfelt effort.
“Grandpa’s Glasses” by Carol Otte
The last story of the last issue depicts a fantasy realization from the author’s childhood. A child, who the reader is led to be believe to be male, narrates the story of the lives he sees through the lenses of old glasses left behind by his deceased grandfather. These visions go from times of war to adventures in other countries. He uses these visions as both an escape and coping method for the natural effects of emotional maturation. He explores subjects in school as well as romantic interests, tying in with CG’s motif of mentally frustrated main characters that it has come to bring to life over the last three years.
Here’s hoping that Crossed Genres will one day return to continue sharing the stories of science fiction and fantasy on the world wide web