The Edges of The World by Grace Seybold, is a short story published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #289, Oct 10, 2019. You can read it here.
The Edges of The World plays off the premise of the man who dreamed he was a butterfly only to question whether he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.
The piece is full of little details that make this piece real even though it takes place in a fictional empire where dissent isn’t tolerated. The details put me in mind of an eastern empire, though it could be something in the tradition of somewhere else.
The plot feels quite secondary in this piece, regardless of the fact that it’s a fantasy tale. However, the fantastical aspects are implied rather than deliberately shown or stated, rather in the tradition of magical realist world-view storytelling, rather than outright fantasy.
While it’s not an exciting piece, so to speak, it is certainly a thoughtful one. The different elements of this piece give it a lonely and–not forboding, but certainly, melancholy feeling. It is, in every way, atmospheric. Worth the short amount of time to read, though not as attention-grabbing as most “adventure fantasy,” the Beneath Ceaseless Skies is known for.
“I’ve been looking for this crossing for a very long time,” she said, considering him as he cradled his arm.
He grunted. “You know the law then?”
She pulled a chair from the table and sat down on it near his cot. He opened his eyes just enough to see her face. It was as pale as he had thought. Even as the keeper of the river Fae, the ferryman hadn’t seen many beings who lived in the land he kept hidden.
He noted how here eyes were perhaps larger than a human’s, how her lips were perhaps thinner. Her hair finer. Her ears certainly pointed in a way humans were not. Everything about her face was sharp and severe, yet he could tell that she was soft, even through his pain.
“The law?” she asked him.
He closed his eyes again. “No one can go back to Faerie. Not after they’ve left.”
She looked a little surprised. “Why’s that?”
The ferryman shrugged, with the first rueful smile he’d been able to muster. “It’s the law, innit’?”
“Well, I suppose we’ve broken it then, haven’t we?” she asked.
The ferryman opened his eyes again. “We?”
“Well, yes. You helped me across on your boat and that means you’re implicated also.”
“I–but–you–broken–,” he fell silent.
She shushed him and told him not to worry. She’d figured this out. She’d been around for a long time, after all. “I’ve seen pretty much all there is to see in the human world,” she said. “For a long time, I wondered why my friends died and I didn’t. So I visited the deserts and the oceans and the mountains and forests to find out. That’s who told me where I was from. And that’s how I came here and found you… and… what’s your name, anyway?” she asked. “Mind if I smoke?”
The ferryman glared and shrugged. “Not in the cabin.”
She stowed her pack of XXX and said, “and your name?”
The ferryman did his best to shrug, but it was half-hearted. Her already wide eyes got even wider. “You don’t have a name?”
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #5
Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artists: David López & Raúl Angulo
Issue 4 ended on something of a cliff-hanger. Xander looked as though he’d need some serious help from his crush, Buffy. However, #5 picks up the story of everybody’s favorite Scooby-gang, in a dire state, both thematically as well as (and I’m sorry to say) creatively.
Issue 5 picks up a few days after the last installment. It’s a strange choice to have gap-time between issues, as #4 left Xander in such a tight fix. Then, suddenly, Giles is adamant that Buffy comes to his home. Since she lost her phone some issues ago, he sends Willow to wake Buffy up before sunrise. Some sequences of what happened to Xander and how he came to be at Giles’ house rush by in exposition. But it all feels perfunctory. The pacing, a strength of the first four issues, seems nonexistent, the voice of the characters seems to blend together, and the clever storytelling mechanic of character narrated issues was dropped for a much more straight forward approach.
Read my full review on Sequentialplanet.com