Strange Horizons, October 3, 2011

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Strange Horizons, Oct. 3, 2011

“Destiny, with a Blackberry Sauce” by David J. Schwartz

Reviewed by Sherry Decker

In an odd town, in an odd country, in a most odd time lives a family with three sons. The two youngest are identical twins.  Their strongest talent is avoiding responsibility. As tradition goes in this odd town, one son must join the Church, one the Guard and one the family business ─ in this case, carpentry. Their older brother, Gil, has already been sent away to the monastery and carpentry sounds more appealing to the twins than the Guard.

This tale is told by the third son, who learns that he and his twin, Mel, both hear creatures talk. First it’s birds, then fish, and finally an old wizard. The birds and fish are slain and eaten and the wizard is told lies and tricked because the message he attempts to impart is unwanted. It seems one of the boys has been selected by Destiny to be the Chosen One and will save the town from the Enemy. This means the Guard. Marching. Fighting. Danger.

The twins are conniving enough to devise a plan. The dubious honor of being the Chosen One is transferred to their older brother, Gil, who is already languishing at the monastery.

Told in a style similar to a school report, this story’s style feels authentic, as if written by someone young, selfish, and uneducated. In other words, unique. We never learn for certain how the story ends, but I have a feeling the teller of the tale manages to outsmart his twin. Then again, maybe not. Either way, it’s a clever tale.