“Godmeat” by Martin Cahill
Reviewed by Christos Antonaros
The 96th issue of Lightspeed presents four original short stories.
In the fantasy short “Godmeat” by Martin Cahill, Hark is the best chef in the Wild World. He has been cooking under contract for the ‘Hollowed,’ nine old gods who seek to return to life by eating the meat of the ‘Great Beasts’ and destroy the world. Being a professional and a master of his art, Hark lets his pride cloud his judgment and prepares a last meal for the Hollowed. The Gods’ return, however, means the end of the world, and Hark will come to realize that he was the reason behind the upcoming apocalypse.
The story begins with a stimulating hook. Hark gazes at the corpse of Sea Mother, thinking how he is going to cook her and introduces Spear, the huntress who hunts and kills the Great Beasts. The detailed recipes create a realistic touch in a fantasy world of divine monsters and hungry gods. The dialogues between Hark, Spear and the Hollowed create a theme which keeps us interested on the outcome until the last sentence.
In “We Will Be All Right” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, a mother prepares dinner for her, her son, and the woman who is going to kill him. The mother can’t blame the woman, though, for she killed the man she loved by conceiving her son. However, although her son’s death is inevitable, she can’t control the stages of grief she manifests.
A dark read, in a dystopian setting, where men must die for humanity to survive, and women are the ones left behind to do everything. Far from dystopian, though, this story could be considered a successful reversal of all those patriarchal narratives in which female characters are playing secondary roles.
In the short story “Our Side of the Door” by Kodiak Julian we meet a father whose imagination is still vivid, despite his age, and who tries to pass the same trait to his son. He loves books such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, or Narnia and is slightly obsessed with finding a magic door that will lead him to another, fairy tale world. When he discovers a magical door, however, he wonders if he should pass through the door or let his son discover it, because the heroes of his favorite books were all children. A beautiful story, with a protagonist who, even though he struggles with his desire to pass the magic door, acts and thinks as a parent, and with a background that justifies every decision.
In the space-station setting of “A Green Moon Problem” by Jane Lindskold, Jurgen loves Rita, but Rita is more passionate about her pursuit to discover extraterrestrial life than she will ever be to Jurgen. Following the legend of Tatter D’MaLeon, a mercenary who can solve any problem, Jurgen tries to find something that will drag Rita’s attention away from her quest and onto him. When he finds the mercenary though, Jurgen must be careful of what he will ask, because the legend says that D’MaLeon finds solutions, but not always the solutions her clients desire. The story is nice, pleasant until the moment Jurgen locates D’MaLeon easily and unexplainably too convenient. From that point on it has nothing more to offer than the typical “be careful what you wish for” scenario.