Diabolical Plots #83, January 2021

Diabolical Plots #83, January 2022

“Tides That Bind” by Cislyn Smith

“Delivery For 3C at Song View” by Marie Croke

Reviewed by Geoff Houghton

The opening story in the January issue of Diabolical Plots is “Tides That Bind” by Cislyn Smith. It brings Homer’s mythological creatures Scylla and Charybdis forward to the 21st Century. The author has granted them a level of sentience and free will that converts them from blind agents of destruction to a pair of individual and distinct personalities who have developed a long and deep friendship over their millennia of life.

These two terrifying monsters have been tamed over the centuries and have exchanged the satisfying crunch of dying sailor’s bones for charitable food deliveries and, in Scylla’s case, more cerebral activities as a troll-hunting moderator on the internet. The concept is novel and the writing clear and crisp, but the reader should not expect to take away any deep message from this whimsical story.

The second offering is “Delivery For 3C at Song View” by Marie Croke and is set in the present day USA. The first-person narrator is a college student who is working as a fast-food delivery driver in order to raise enough money for her university education. She casually informs the reader that she is a perfectly ordinary young American woman with one trifling exception. She is not entirely human and traces her descent on one side of her immigrant family back to an Arabian Djinn. The supernatural element of her heritage has been diluted over the generations and this power is no longer under her conscious control. Nevertheless, that magic is still present and about one in fifty wishes spoken in her presence actually comes to pass.

The author uses this scenario to point out the self-destructive nature of wishing for unearned benefits rather than being content with the honest gains of one’s own labour but the majority of the story revolves around our protagonist trying to extract herself from the consequences of a delivery customer’s casual wish. The principal character is sympathetically written and this reader felt an empathy for her situation and her competent, no-nonsense way of dealing with it. You will have to read it yourself to discover if that is enough to solve her dilemma.

Geoff Houghton lives in a leafy village in rural England. He is a retired Healthcare Professional with a love of SF and a jackdaw-like appetite for gibbets of medical, scientific and historical knowledge.