Strange Horizons, September 7, 14, & 21, 2020

Strange Horizons, September 7, 14, & 21, 2020

“Color, Heat, and the Wreck of the Argo” by Catherynne M. Valente (9/7)

“12 Worlds Interrupted by the Drone” by Fargo Tbakhi (9/14)

“Quiet” by Aqdas Aftab (9/21)

Reviewed by Chuck Rothman

“Color, Heat, and the Wreck of the Argo” by Catherynne M. Valente starts out the month of September for Strange Horizons with a bang. Johanna Telle discovers an ancient camcorder in a garage sale, naming it Big Edie and, with some effort, manages to make it work. But Big Edie has a strange effect: when Johanna records a person, the playback shows them suffering a horrible fate. But it turns out that the effects of Big Edie aren’t so simple as they seem. An excellent story that takes what at first seems a well-worn situation but adds nuances that give it much more depth, and a resolution that is surprising, avoiding where it seems to be going.

Fargo Tbakhi contributes “12 Worlds Interrupted by the Drone,” a series of vignettes about an unnamed boy on different worlds whose life is always interrupted by the appearance of a drone, which always leads to loss and destruction. Nice use of language and images, and a mood of sadness, but ultimately there’s no actual story and the result is nothing more than futility.

“Quiet” by Aqdas Aftab is set in a city where people can no longer talk. The narrator has returned to see his sister Haajra, bringing a lover named Rooh. Rooh discovers that you can communicate if you touch, something the society doesn’t allow. But even that is difficult. The story introduces a strong concept, and a metaphor for totalitarian repression and basically just sets a mood and does little with it except make one feel sad.

Chuck Rothman’s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate are available from Fantastic Books.