Rejoice, My Brothers And Sisters
by Benjamin Rosenbaum
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction: Nov/Dec 2019
Rejoice, My Brothers And Sisters is something of an inverted Matrix plotline. It tells the story of “an Angel” who has become corporeal and visits a “zoo” in which humans live. That zoo is our real-world–or at least a world that is very similar to our own.
Many who live within this zoo believe/know they are living in a contained and fake environment. Many people protest and want to ascend to the place the protagonist has come from, which involves porting your consciousness over to “the cloud.”
Since the story is narrated by a sliver of consciousness that would fit in a human brain, compared to a consciousness unbridled by physicality, and instead in an infinite processor, readers can’t trust the main character. First, they start out trying to convince someone the idea of ascension is impossible. But the longer the story goes on the more I began to doubt whether this narrator was in the zoo to tell the truth, or merely spread propaganda.
The unreliable narrator is cool–I love unreliable narrators–but some of the concepts in this piece just seemed tired. I didn’t really buy into the world either. I think, ultimately, this piece is trying to establish too many things in the short word-count it has. The result is that the world doesn’t feel persistent. Instead, it feels thin, washed, the people living within the zoo unreal, or simple plot devices.
Check out what Benjamin Rosenbaum is up to: here
The Converter of Time:
By Mina Ikemoto Ghosh
The Converter of Time by Mina Ikemoto Ghosh explores how industry capitalizes on the fears of the populace it claims to benefit.
In the story, there are two societies–those who live within the Converter of Time (or CT) and those who live without. Those who have escaped the CT are free from the fear of death, willingly infect by a genetically engineered virus. It sounds a bit like toxoplasmosis, but there aren’t any cats involved.
The narrator isn’t human. There is talk of braiding “fur” and slicking ears back when something bad happens. Part of me thinks this was an effective way to tell the story, part of me wonders if it’s necessary. The fact that the characters aren’t human gives them license to act decidedly different than humans, which at times they do. On the other hand, up until halfway through the story I didn’t know they weren’t human, and so had to adjust my mental image of the story in the middle of reading. I can see why Ghosh didn’t introduce their alienness to readers from the outside. You tend to lose people when you start something off with alien main characters. I know I immediately wonder if they’ll be relatable. If they are, that’s good. But if they are overly human in their logic and emotions, then I begin to wonder why they aren’t just human. So–I guess Ghosh is walking a thin line here. Aliens or humans? For me, this story is a good one. I like the themes, the structure, the world it is set in. But I don’t think the alienness of the characters is essential to the plot, and so it tends to distract.
The finished product, however, is an intriguing and well-crafted, excellently written, and darkly imagined look at how industry leads us astray.
Mina Ikemoto Ghosh is a British-Japanese writer and illustrator. Her style incorporates brushpen and bold, dark, dynamic linework – drawing on the influences of the manga she grew up with and Japanese calligraphy – and the fine pen lines she saw in illustrated English books. She admires Chris Riddell and Amano Yoshitaka, and draws on her love of nature and BA in Natural Sciences for her story subjects. Trial and error over a couple of million words’ worth of manuscripts has taught her enough about narrative to know that she’s got many, many miles to go. She would like to see more illustrated YA fiction.
All That The Storm Took:
By Yah Yah Scholfield
It’s a new year, 2020, and the future has come. Everybody makes a resolution that can’t quite keep unless your my best friend who said his resolution was to watch a movie. *Facepalm* Whatever. My resolution this year is to write a flash fiction story once a month. Sounds easy enough, but with my track of going back to school, it is a bit daunting. Furthermore, reading short fiction, such as All That The Storm Took is paramount to my success as well. If I’m not reading short fiction, I won’t write it either. So, here we are.
In All That The Storm Took, Yah Yah Scholfield recounts the traumas of Hurricane Katrina. It’s a tired subject. There have many short stories and novels written about the aftermath of that storm–though, perhaps, never one quite like this.
Scholfield is clever in her telling. Much of the plot is over and done, and readers are only greeted with the consequences of what has happened. But readers still don’t know how, or why. The why, is perhaps less important than the what. So much was lost in Hurricane Katrina for those who tried to ride out the storm–especially since the US government made the storm sound less harmful than it turned out being.
And so the two main characters of the story try to ride out the storm. Like so many people who tried, they lost their home, but also more. This scene is told in “flashback” style, which is sometimes a bit dangerous as, if readers already know the outcome, it can feel anticlimactic. But Scholfield packs enough emotional power into both the flashback scene and the final conclusion, that it doesn’t feel contrived or cheating. It feels like trauma. Like PTSD. To me, that’s what this story is about. That grief. Sure, there’s a speculative aspect to this story, but it is only to illustrate the emotional truth.
Yah Yah Scholfield is 20 years old and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Check out what else she is doing by clicking: Here