Strange Horizons, May 4, 2015
Reviewed by Stevie Barry
Teresa Milbrodt‘s “The Pieces” is a story about family, and how one can love them yet at the same time find them utterly exasperating. The narrator meets with her parents, and her father, who has never approved of her life choices, and almost immediately begins castigating her for all of them. She and her boyfriend take him out for coffee in an attempt to calm him down, which eventually works, and he accepts that he’s caused her pain over the years. The thing that nudges it into speculative fiction territory is the fact that her father has fallen to pieces, literally; his limbs and head have all separated from his torso, and it’s implied that this is not the first time it’s happened. The reasons for it are never addressed in the text, though the fact that they take his head and torso out for coffee would suggest he’s not the only person this happens to. An explanation, even a slight one, would have kept that from being so jarring as to diminish the story’s effect; as it is, it feels shoehorned in just to market the tale as science fiction.