Beneath Ceaseless Skies #141, February 20, 2014
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
“The Days When Papa Takes Me to War” starts out the late February Beyond Ceaseless Skies with a dose of weirdness, in the story of Olivia, who is in the middle of World War II with her Papa. It quickly starts to reveal much more than that: Papa is Ernest Hemingway and Olivia is a giant sentient ant, part of a group that saved him from death and which starts out with an antlike perception of war. The story is told from Olivia’s eyes as she discovers the battle and the evil of the Nazis and starts to intervene. Rahul Kanakia clearly gets an A+ for imagination, but the ending seems dependent on a story by Hemingway. I haven’t read enough of his to recognize if it actually exists, and if it’s just a construct for the story, the point is very trivial. Great situation, but the result is lacking.
Ann Chatham‘s “Pilgrims” follows Magda, as she buries a dead knight she has met on his pilgrimage. Two days later, the dead knight returns as a ghost to help her along with her quest. The story reveals the nature of their background, but basically she just goes on, completes her task, and goes home. Nothing stops her, and the knight’s help is pretty much unneeded. It’s just a chance for the two characters to slowly reveal their backgrounds, which were not particularly dramatic, and the characters are so subdued that the emotional payoff is flat and far too subdued to be interesting.