Beneath Ceaseless Skies #99, July 11, 2012
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
“How the Wicker Knight Would Not Move” is the story of people on an important mission who are faced with a dilemma. They have set out to defeat the Perfection, a world separated from theirs by a gateway that is beginning to open. and let it through to destroy their own world. Only the Wicker Knight — a giant wicker statue — can save things, but no one knows how to make him do anything but sit there. Each of the people in the company try different ways, when failure could mean the end of everything.
Of course, the resolution of this is inherent in its setup: someone will figure out the secret, and most likely after many failures. I grew a bit impatient watching this play out and the various characters never made a strong impression on me. Chris Willrich‘s story is structurally monotonous and depends on the cleverness of the solution to make an impression. I didn’t find it strong enough to go through all the effort to get there.
Alex Dally MacFarlane‘s “Fox Bones. Many Uses.” is set in a divided society, mixed between the Hma and the Nu. Za is a young woman of the Hma tribe, who is scorned because of her half-Nu son. This comes at a time when the Nu are at war with the Hma, and Za’s home is threatened. The Hma use the bones of foxes as magic talismans, each one having different powers, and all used by Za in order to try to save her tribe and also her son. Like the other story in the magazine, there’s plenty of atmosphere, and this works a bit better in telling the story.
Chuck Rothman recently sold “The Last Dragon Slayer” to the upcoming anthology Unidentified Funny Objects.