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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons -- December 16, 2019

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Strange Horizons, December 16, 2019

"Flags Flying Before a Fall" by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

Reviewed by Mike Wyant Jr.

"Flags Flying Before a Fall" by Osahon Ize-Iyamu is a strange tale. Roughly, it follows a nearly unidentified main character living in a world where they die constantly, only to be resurrected by a tree that their brother won from professionally rolling down a hill. (I wish I could have that make more sense, but I can’t.) After this sport is outlawed, the protagonist is forced by their family to pretend at success to hide the money the brother sends back. Later, when the brother comes back at an inopportune time, he learns the truth and leaves, which ultimately sends the protagonist on a quest to find their lost sibling.

The story itself was hard for me to follow. I feel like there’s some sort of backstory or mythology I’m missing out on to make the detached external narration easier to handle, which is a shame.

That said, the language and the poetry of the prose is beautifully done. The story spends so much time stuck in the emotion and inner workings of the protagonist, despite their mother’s constant reinforcement that they need to avoid emotion, that a lesser writer would’ve fumbled and failed at the attempt. Ize-Iyamu, however, really manages to keep those hooks in despite it all.

In the end, despite my disconnect with background of this story, the raw emotion delivered through accurate, beautiful prose makes this a story worth reading.


Mike Wyant, Jr. is an ex-IT guy, who has finally committed to a writing life out in the Middle of Nowhere, New York.