Strange Horzions, 20 December 2004

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

"The Floating Otherworld" by Tom Doyle

In "The Floating Otherworld," Tom Doyle paints the afterlife in Japanese characters.  Nolan and Kaguya are connected.  Together they traverse levels of the Otherworld, experiencing everything from an office, to a hot spring bath, to a private karaoke room.  In each version of hell, their paths cross that of Oya, who I believe represents a cross between Nolan's alter ego and his demon.  But I leave the final determination to you, the reader.

The most compelling setting in the story was that of The Hell of No Interval, which takes place at a memorial shrine at "death o'clock."  In this scene, Oya is "executioner, accuser, judge" and "his eyes are all-devouring like cremation fires, like hungry ghosts."  The depth of the emotions here resonated with me long after reading the piece.

The story is told from second person point of view.  I'm not a big fan of the style since it feels a bit too intimate at times.  What if I won't jump into the pool the author describes before me?  Does that make the story counterfeit?  The existential nature of the story distanced me from the action, which made the point of view all the more jarring, although that may have been Doyle's intention.  I found myself picking up a red pen to edit back the occasional over-used word, but the story's message is still a strong one: death, hell, and misery take on many different forms.