The Joy in Wounding, published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a fantasy piece by Charlotte Ashley. It’s a continuation of some characters from a prior short story published in F&SF.
Despite the fact I’d read that last story, I’m still grappling with the type of world this is. The main character is a witch, and so are her sisters, but then she has like some wind that floats around her all the time and can talk (?). It feels very Murakami in some ways, yet then magical things are happening that make the main character fly around leagues and leagues–with no real point of reference.
If I hadn’t read the last story in this series I’d have been even more confused than I am, and not only with the world. Some of the character’s actions seem unwarranted and unearned as if they act in order to create plot, rather than in their truer nature. Sometimes there are those pieces in magazines that I just can’t understand how they fit into what is publishable and marketable, and sadly this is one of those. It’s a harsh assessment, but this reader had an exceedingly difficult time not putting down the issue altogether.
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