“Over the end, and over again…” by Toiya Kristen Finley (Oct. 4th)
“The Interior of Mister Bumblethorn’s Coat” by Willow Fagan (Oct. 11th)
“Monsters” by Lavie Tidhar (Oct. 18th)
“Bitterdark” by Eljay Daley (Oct. 25th)
Reviewed by Bob Blough
Fantasy Magazine this month has a very good line up. One tale is SF, one is arguably science fiction or fantasy, and two are full fledged fantasy stories.
First up is “Over the end, and over again…” by Toiya Kristen Finlay, which starts out as a straight ghost story then turns into something weird and wonderful which may or may not be science fiction by the end. A multigenerational story of African Americans in Nashville, the story hinges on a young man who one day discovers that he has a hole in him from which “little pieces of me smaller than dust mites get sucked through my back and float away…” Is it the ghosts that Great Grandma always talked about? Does it have something to do with the way that the men in this family die violently even as the women die naturally?
This is an interesting story written in an interesting voice. Read it, you won’t be sorry.
Next is a story filled with wild invention that somehow never gets away from its author. “The Interior of Mister Bumblethorn’s Coat” by Willow Fagan (a new author to me) is a wonderful story about a certain Mister Bumblethorn who lives in Fleet City. The author describes the city thusly: “…a living book of symbols written in a language of flesh and movement…” Mister Bumblethorn is unable to hide from his past which, in a delightful twist, is a very heroic one often used as a trope for traditional fantasy – the sword wielding hero intent on destroying evil. The butchery of that past causes him to choose his present situation.
Filled to the brim with surprising turns of phrase and with a deep heart beating under the words, “The Interior of Mister Bumblethorn’s Coat” is really a special story.
Next we have “Monsters” by Lavie Tidhar. This author is rapidly becoming one of the most important new authors in the SF/F field. “Monsters” is about a space faring human who has an alien monster living in his head. Who the monster is and how he got there is the story. The situation of facing the other within ourselves is modulated quite well. Mr. Tidhar needs to be read. He just keeps getting better.
The final story for the month is more traditional in nature and well done. “Bitterdark” by Eljay Daley (another new writer to me) concerns the ages-old war between faerie and humanity. Faerie is being destroyed by the return of the bitterdark, an evil that had been destroyed 50 years ago by the king of the fairies who afterwards fell in love with a human woman and fled faerie leaving his daughter in charge. The story concerns the daughter’s request for her father to return and fight the bitterdark once again. The writing is fluid and the story is engaging. Ms. Daley is a writer to watch.
The genre short story is, I think, having a renaissance this year. This is a very good batch of stories.