Strange Horizons, June 10, 2013
Reviewed by Dave Truesdale
This short tale shows how children growing up in war-torn Guatemala (the native children, the kids of the Americans there to help, and the religious kids growing up in the local church) invent games from what they see around them. In this case it’s the violent game of hiding from the rebel forces who terrorize the people. Some kids get to play the victims, others the brutal oppressors.
The story briefly traces the lives of several of them into their adulthood, giving us a glimpse of how their lives were changed and how they have turned out.
These stories are always sad ones when we learn of them on the news in numerous parts of the world. We feel for the native, indigenous families and their children who are victims either directly or–as this story shows–indirectly and after time. These emotions are brought to light here, but inasmuch as the use of minor magic by one young girl is only a small part of the story, this is basically naught but a mainstream tale concerned with the effects of warfare on children and the impact it has on their adult lives. Not to diminish the subject matter, it’s a worthwhile topic; there’s just not much imaginative or speculative content the way we think of it in genre terms.
Dave Truesdale has edited Tangent and now Tangent Online since 1993. It has been nominated for the Hugo Award four times and the World Fantasy Award once. A former editor of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he also served as a World Fantasy Award judge in 1998, and for several years wrote an original online column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now retired, he keeps close company with his SF/F library, the coffeepot, and old movie channels on TV. He lives in Kansas City, MO.