Strange Horizons, April, 2007

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“What the Thunder Said” by Lavie Tidhar

Sophie needs help. While she has been sojourning in a land foreign to her, the spirits of the mountain have seized her companion, Jamil. As the boy lies unconscious, Sophie seeks out an old wise man, well-versed in the lore of the storm spirits, to bargain for Jamil’s life. Painfully unforeseen consequences arise. Sultry and crackling, Lavie Tidhar’s prose intimately evokes Ethiopian [?] weather and the high-running emotions of his characters.

“Painted” by Becca De La Rosa is an urban fantasy about the fey Loretta. Silent saboteur in the art museums, she attempts to free the depicted representations of herself from the confines of their canvases. Her friends think she’s schizophrenic or anorexic or drug-ridden or several of the above, but she thinks she has a mission. “Painted” is what happens when Charles de Lint’s characters go mad, gently insane, the knots of sanity loosening so that the strange winds of insight can flutter through them.

Mark Teppo’s “How the Mermaid Lost Her Song” revisits Hans Christian Andersen’s tale about the little mermaid. Merging Andersen’s sweet, sad, sadistic story with the equally bleak themes of the supernatural wife and her enforced transformation from beast to human, Teppo makes something new, evocative. Unfortunately, the tale’s longing atmosphere is dampened [hah] by an infodump-turned-character, Phreniwit, who summarizes the plot, instead of letting it happen, then slaps us over the head with the themes.

“Ferryman’s Reprieve” by Kate Bachus concentrates on a Charon-like character, doomed to transport criminals to their deaths. He’s kind of resigned to his lot until a fellow suspiciously similar to him begins to question why our protagonist has this particular fate. It’s a neat little Möebius strip of a story with a sharp edge.
In the month’s last offering, “Fella Down A Hole: Unlikely Patron Saints, No. 2” by Amy Sisson, our young rural protagonist falls down an abandoned mineshaft and hallucinates. Spare, suggestive in its details, this is more of a vignette of Sarah Anne’s rough, commonsensical voice, a nugget of story that maybe could be true.