Small Thoughts Review: Eternal Recurrence Revisited by Brandon Robshaw

Eternal Recurrence Revisited by Brandon Robshaw is another look at Nietzsche’s interpretation of the recurrence of life and death Infinitum. It is published in issue 137 of Philosophy Now: A magazine of ideas.

Nietzsche’s take on eternal recurrence is, to nobodies surprise, rather depressing. Or at least it is for his sake. The idea is that every person will live life, again and again, exactly the way they have already lived it, making all the same mistakes and feeling all the same pain and joys as they are doing so right now in their current life. For Nietzsche, himself, this may have been perhaps debilitating. He was not a happy, optimistic person. Brandon Issue 137Robshaw, on the other hand, interprets this particular concept in far different ways than Nietzsche might have for himself. As Nietzsche was blighted by health issues, few friends, and constant personal egotistical demons, not everyone is. That’s what Robshaw brings to this. For some–Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence might be wonderful, for they have lived happy, fulfilling lives (by and large). However, Robshaw can’t stray too far from the near nihilistic nature of Nietzsche. Robshaw posits: if we are doomed to live and relive all our past experiences, are we then at what point is everything meaningless and the same, since it has already happened–even if we don’t remember our past lives, or the lives to come that will be exactly as our lives are now. Suddenly, life is not so linear in the sense from point A to Point B, for death entails another birth–are you an antinatalist? Do you prescribe a positive or negative value to birth? If you do then the continued birth-death-birth-death-etc, the cycle is no doubt depressing. But then there’s the chicken-or-egg conundrum: Can we tell which came first, birth or death? One may signify the other if we take Nietzsche’s idea of eternal recurrence for a fact. Suddenly, time seems not something fix, but rather nearly a room we could walk through sampling what experiences we might enjoy and those we do not–if only we could recall our past lives.

Small Thoughts Review: Falling Angel by Albert E. Cowdrey

Albert E. Cowdrey is known for his ghost stories. The Novelet, Falling Angel (published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2020) adds to Cowdrey’s portfolio.

The premise is somewhat Noir, in the sense that the murder in question took place back in the 1940s. Think The Black Dahlia type of case, but an echo or the ghost of the murdered woman’s scream haunts the hotel in which she perished. That’s what Butch and Roma are here to investigate. What happened to a struggling actress back in the 40s, how she died, and how to finally put her rest.The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2020 ...

This piece is filled with the occult and the dark underworld of things that go bump in the night. It’s urban fantasy, well told, and well written. However, I didn’t see the ending coming–and not in a good way. It left me feeling a bit bemused since it hinged on some political/social commentary that was completely absent in the piece up until that moment. If there had been an inkling of politics in this piece beforehand, I think I would have found this ending more fulfilling. Still, up until that last page or so I found this an enjoyable read.

Small Thoughts Review: Elsinore Revolution by Elaine Vilar Madruga, Translated by Toshiya Kamei

Elsinore Revolution is a science fiction short-short story written by Elaine Vilar Madruga, and translated into English by Toshiya Kamie. It was published in the Jan/Feb issue of The Magazine of  Fantasy and Science Fiction. It centers on the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Without some foreknowledge of the Hamlet story, and the character of Ophelia this will be a much different piece of SF.

In the piece, Shakespear is nothing more than a robot, or algorithm writing masterpieces. However, a fatal error spreads throughout the system of Shakespears, corrupting them.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2020 ...

I am not a fan of loop stories. That is, I don’t particularly care for stories in which the beginning of the piece is a sort of–trick of light, or some such, that turns out to be just the ending of the same story readers have just read. Sadly, that is the unfortunate demise of this piece. While it’s a short piece and so doesn’t come with a hefty time commitment to read, the ending feels like a cheat to me, as, in the end, nothing has changed for the reader. Shakespear-robot has changed, but it seems to me that readers are left out of that change. Due to this, the piece falls flat.