Futurismic, March 2005

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

"Strike A Pose" by Donnàrd Ricardo Sturgis

Never has a story surprised me more than "Strike A Pose" by Donnàrd Ricardo Sturgis found at the online ‘zine, Futurismic. Talk about fiction that strands a person at an intense level of uncomfortable. Drag queens, sorority houses that function like gangs, rape, and violence all find a cozy little home in the world of Glamtasia. The warning at the beginning of the story about the graphic nature of the text is an understatement. If you’re prudish, extremely conservative, or drag queens make you squeamish, then you probably should avoid this story. However, if you choose to skip it, you’re missing out on something fantastic.

From the elaborate character descriptions, down to the nuances of this world, the story drips with originality. The plot follows Cindy as "he/she" takes us through the futuristic drag queen subculture of Glamtasia, and prepares for the Future Legends Ball where the winner gets a modeling contract with the House (kind of a cross between gangs and sororities) of their choice. Meanwhile, enemies of the protagonist want to impede him from winning the Ball. Some of the plot is fairly obvious because the whole story is structured around the Cinderella archetype. However, the originality of the setting and the nuances of the world create a Cinderella-tale that defies anything ever done before. Even the Grimm Brothers could take a few notes about writing dark fiction from Donnàrd Ricardo Sturgis

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the fantasy elements, which revolves around Caribbean religion and magic such as Voodoo and Santeria. For example, there’s one point in the story where one character uses voodoo to subdue another character. It’s in this scene in particular that the magic seems a little off, especially since the author already developed the character’s personality so that the reader could easily believe that character to be subdued without magic. So it works like a cheap cop-out.

Then as the storyline progresses, more magic appears, this time from the Santeria religion. The earlier scene now seems less like a cop-out and more like an element thrown in to prepare us to suspend disbelief for this later scene. Additionally, the appearance of magic also relies on the Cinderella archetype. So the magic is a mixed bag in that it works because of certain elements in the story, but at first almost unravels a really cool science fiction story. In the end, we get a story that contains both science fiction and fantasy elements that breathes and grows outside of the archetypal fairytale it’s based around.

The author’s ability to extrapolate a futuristic world around drag queens and Caribbean culture is downright amazing. The quintessence of how to extrapolate a believable and quirky future . Other writers should spend time studying this story to learn how it’s done. Not to mention the dialogue and descriptions of the drag queens’ appearances are very believable. This story does mostly everything right.

When I first volunteered to review Futurismic here at Tangent, I thought the stories would be more traditional science fiction offerings. By the time I finished reading "Strike a Pose," I recorded Futurismic as a magazine I would want to read again in the future, offering original fiction with a capital "O" that can keep pace with much of what the top markets offer these days.