Diabolical Plots #42, August 2018
“Medium Matters” by R.K. Duncan
Reviewed by Mike Wyant Jr.
August’s issue gives us two science-fiction stories, but both break the traditional mold in favor of humor.
Ever wonder what it’d be like if an advice columnist gave out strangely apt life advice under the guise of paranormal conflict resolution? Well, you’re in luck because R.K. Duncan‘s “Medium Matters” is just that.
While the story begins with a pleading letter from “Cursed, in Kansas City,” the rest of the story is ultimately about the columnist, one Marissa Matters. There’s a consistent thread of humor throughout, which is fantastic because the reality hidden just behind the explanation that spirits are restrained by man-made laws (and, thus, can be issued a Restraining Order) isn’t at all. It’s a commentary on sexual harassment, abuse, and obsessive possessiveness that trails women throughout their daily lives.
There’s a chance I’m reading into the story too much, but I don’t think so. Overall, an interesting read with neat voicing that digs into an important topic.
Ryan Dull‘s “The Vegan Apocalypse: 50 Years Later” is essentially a piece of corporate meat-market propaganda detailing the ascendance of a relatively large part of the human population (the Beloved BillionTM plus almost a billion vegans… but they don’t count in the announcement).
In another time, where our current socio-environmental-economic situation doesn’t inspire a high level of anxiety and paranoia, I’d probably be laughing my way through the story. Ryan Dull has a way of taking corporate talking points and morphing them into a format that showcases just how ridiculous they are (i.e. McFactTM).
At the risk of forcing my own politics into this narrative, the way the story is written and the style with which Dull employs doublespeak tactics really struck a nerve as I considered it inside the U.S.’s current political/cultural narrative. If that’s the point of the story—and I believe it is—Dull is very successful in teasing out those anxieties and concerns with corny trademarked phrases and protein cubes.
The one major criticism I have for this story is it seems to stretch on for longer than I would’ve liked. As I neared the end of section four I realized there were five subsections and I hadn’t even begun that part.
Overall, worth swinging by and reading. Just don’t eat a burger while doing so.
Mike Wyant, Jr. is an ex-IT guy, who has finally committed to a writing life out in the Middle of Nowhere, New York.