Archive for the ‘Strange horizons’ Category
Last of the Monsters is a story of the aftermath of Mythology. The Gorgon Euryale is the last of the three sisters and is looking for Perseus’s shield so that she can destroy it. She thinks that she has at last found Athena’s grave and might be able to recover the shield.
She is the last of her sisters because contrary to the traditional mythology, (well at least as far as I know) Stheno became mortal and has also died.
So really this story is all about the last line, but for me it wasn’t enough. There just isn’t nearly enough story in there and the ending line isn’t poignant enough to overcome it.
This is a story that reminds me of Carol Emschwiller. And also a bit of Carrie.
“The Red Bride” could be any story where colonizers enslave an native population and they eventually uprise and slaughter their enslavers. This story just happens to wear SF clothing.
It starts with the air of a bedtime story told to “Twigling” – a fairy tale with perhaps too graphic than is wise (nightmares might arise) but quickly moves to something more-this is not just a story, but the story of their lives.
The Red Bride is a vengeance angel who stirs the Var into madness of slaughter to free them from the humans. She is born and reborn when needed, the complement to the male leader.
The story doesn’t start with the Bride, but with the Vallhan, a leader that is born, unknowing, when the Var have greatest need of him. He is not born a dreamer, or a gatherer, or an arbiter, as are our males, but all these things together.
There comes a time when the Vallhan has seen enough, and bears all he can bear, but he cannot act without his bride, the Red Bride, beside him.
This is where the story falls flat for me – she is inspiration without any of the special skills Vallhan has. Yeah, don’t get me started on this – it is the main sour note in the story. The bride is nothing but the figurehead, muse to the violence of war. She needn’t worry her pretty head about the actual injustice because she is emotion personified, uncontrollably so.
It is Twigling’s kindness to the Var and treatment of them as people that has earned him this reprieve (of a sort – his entire family is still dead.) The story ends with an element of hope – both that the narrator might temper the violence to humans and also that maybe this cycle will not repeat again.