Strange Horizons, July 14, 2014
Reviewed by Louis West
“The World Resolute,” by E. Catherine Tobler, is a flash fiction tale in which the dead woods appear to be a metaphor for the unchanging, emptiness of death while a hag, a woman and a girl are all different aspects of death. The story has three phases to it, including the end, with each marked by the same phrasing. “The trees are growing hollow here,” marks the beginning of each, and “Both paths end in death… If this is a labyrinth… there is only one path,” indicates closure. The end is bookmarked solely by “The trees are growing hollow here,” as if the cycle is once again repeating.
The protagonist’s three transitions are discovery of the hag, discovery of herself as a young girl, then switching places with the old woman and becoming death. I would take exception, though, to the statement that labyrinths only have one path. While many are indeed designed that way, there is no rule that says they can’t have more. I would have found the story more compelling if there were different paths, thereby suggesting that the cycle of death can evolve and even be broken.
Interesting read, but takes some work to interpret.