Lightspeed #12, May 2011
“The Harrowers” by Eric Gregory
“Eliot Wrote” by Nancy Kress
Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell
In “The Harrowers” by Eric Gregory, the kid who enlists Ez’s services as a guide isn’t the usual sort. The boy calls himself P.K. He wants to go into the forest to find his father, a preacher who specializes in ministering to those outside. No one goes out of the city, into the world of the red bears, the world of the dead, without a guide. Even the guides wouldn’t go if they had a choice. Once he’s there, Ez discovers P.K.’s secret.
This tale has an engaging voice and a quick pace. Gregory uses a complex back story to good effect in creating motive for his characters. Given some of the interesting ideas he introduces, I was a bit disappointed that the action was so typical of the genre. I found the story long but quite readable.
“Eliot Wrote” by Nancy Kress contrasts Eliot’s need to find a workable metaphor for his English homework with his distress over his mathematician father’s mental breakdown. His father believes he’s seen the image of Zeus in a toaster pastry. Though Eliot’s father is confined to the psychiatric ward of the local hospital for evaluation, he’s certain he’s seen the foundation of one of the secrets of the universe, and now only has to work out the math. Eliot believes his father needs surgery to excise the offending thoughts, but he’s not old enough to authorize the procedure, and his aunt won’t. While Eliot’s father works through his revelation, Eliot must deal with his own.
I found the story enjoyable, though I’d have loved to have seen more exploration of the mathematics of godliness as expressed on a toaster pastry.