Strange Horizons — May 20, 2019

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Strange Horizons, May 20, 2019

“Road: A Fairytale” by Shalini Srinivasan

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

“Road: A Fairytale” by Shalini Srinivasan is set in modern India. The two main characters are a street, called Road, and a river, now a conduit for sewage, called Sludge. They absorb the anger of the human beings who make use of them, and feed upon people and vehicles. The only people they tolerate are the workers who labor beneath Road and keep Sludge clear of obstructions.

This anthropomorphic fantasy consists of several sections of text, each labeled with Roman numerals. Since the story is less than three thousand words long, and proceeds in a linear fashion, this seems unnecessary. The author does a fine job bringing Road and Sludge to life. The characters and a great deal of local color are enjoyable, but otherwise this whimsical tale seems little more than a bagatelle. As if to add some weight to this light offering, portions of the story’s illustration appear within the text no less than five times.

Victoria Silverwolf was one minute late to work tonight.