Strange Horizons, November 15, 2021

[On May 10, 2021 Strange Horizons officially expressed its political support for Palestinian solidarity. The views of Tangent Online reviewers are not necessarily those of Strange Horizons. Fiction critiqued at Tangent Online is, as much as is humanly possible, without prejudice and based solely on artistic merit.]

Strange Horizons, November 15, 2021

“Dragons” by Teresa Milbrodt

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

The two main characters in “Dragons” by Teresa Milbrodt frequently play a virtual reality game involving fighting a dragon, which is surprisingly friendly and sympathetic when not trying to kill the players. If you experience your death too vividly in the game, you can die in the real world. Outside the game, the two characters work their jobs, have common disabilities, such as wearing hearing aids and glasses, and wonder if they should stop playing the addictive and dangerous game.

The theme of a game that has consequences in reality is certainly not a new one, but at least it is used in an original way here. Much of the story is a slice-of-life description of two ordinary people, trying to make the world better in small ways. The dragon may be intended as a symbol for the sorts of challenges people face in their everyday lives. The game might be an allegory for addiction, and the difficulty in overcoming it. In any case, I found the mundane parts of this story more interesting than the speculative ones.

Victoria Silverwolf wears glasses.