Strange Horizons, November 18, 2013
Reviewed by Louis West
Victor Fernando R. Ocampo’s “A Secret Map of Shanghai” seems a bit like a story struggling to define itself. There are so many possible interpretations. Perhaps it’s a blend of mainstream historical fiction with fantasy, “slipstream,” so to speak, where the older woman and younger man represent the old and the new in a re-emerging China. Or it’s simply an erotic carnal fantasy couched in geographic terms because plain sensuality would be too mundane for the characters involved. One theme is clear, though: the old seduces the young which in turn eventually commands the old. This is in contrast, in my opinion, to cultural change where the young conquers the old society then the old traditions eventually make their way back into dominance. Too abstruse for me to enjoy.