“Moments of Doubt” by Aimee Ogden
“The Will of the God of Music” by P.H. Low
“Enchanted Mirrors Are Making a Comeback. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing.” by Mari Ness
“There’s Magic in Bread” by Effie Seiberg
Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf
Four stories in which fantastic events occur in the modern world appear in this issue.
“Moments of Doubt” by Aimee Ogden takes place after a large number of people have disappeared, possibly as a result of the Rapture predicted by some Christian sects. The main character journeys to her brother’s empty house to collect relics of her vanished sibling.
This is more of a mood piece than a fully developed, plot-driven story. The situation is presented without explanation. The descriptions of the deserted house are vivid and emotionally powerful, but readers may feel frustrated by a lack of resolution.
Addressed as “you” in the currently popular second person present tense technique, the main character in “The Will of the God of Music” by P.H. Low is a pianist. Briefly possessed by a deity and thus able to produce extraordinary music, the pianist is now racked with pain and barely able to play at all. The care offered by the pianist’s lover is the only touch of hope in a tragic situation.
As often occurs, the use of second person narration tends to make the protagonist rather vague. This may allow readers to identify with the character, but it also makes it difficult to visualize the person. The pianist’s suffering is vividly conveyed, as is the lover’s compassion. The fantasy content is not strictly necessary, as this could easily be a story about a musician with a debilitating disease.
“Enchanted Mirrors Are Making a Comeback. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing.” by Mari Ness is a mock article about the challenges faced by magic mirrors and their users in the modern world. Fake magic mirrors, operated by computers, take advantage of their users and drive the much more expensive real magic mirrors out of the market. Genuine magic mirrors have a hard time adjusting to modern technology, and yearn for the time when their users took better care of them.
This is a droll piece, with a welcome touch of satire concerning the dangers of social media. This biting aspect of the story weakens after a strong opening section, which is a bit disappointing.
“There’s Magic in Bread” by Effie Seiberg consists of two alternating sections of narrative. In one, a narrator who is at high risk of medical complications struggles to make a living while isolated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the other, the elderly grandmother of the narrator appears as a young woman, facing brutal antisemitism in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Both sections involve the making of bread.
The fantasy content of the story does not appear until late in the text. Until that point, the work is an effective combination of mainstream fiction and historical fiction. Readers are likely to predict the supernatural event that occurs in the section set in the past. As a bonus, the story contains mouthwatering descriptions of breadmaking.
Victoria Silverwolf is waiting for her car to be repaired.