This month's Crossed Genres #25 is centered around the theme "Indoctrinate." As far as themes go, it's not too bad. There's a lot that can be done with it, as shown by the three stories here. In any event, here we go!
"Cabaret Obscuro" by Julian Mortimer Smith (4058 words)
A neat piece that almost seemed noir to me, at least in that it evokes that time period where cabaret's and shows of that sort were more popular, and it revels in a sort of mirky feel that makes me imagine in sepia. There is also the feel that this is a dangerous time to be different, that for the people of the story, the immigrant performers, things are not very good and they're fighting for even the most basic of rights. The fact that these immigrants are from the stars and not from other continents is what gives the story its speculative wrinkle, and it's a good one. There is an exotic flair to the situation, one that comforts as well as bothers the main character, a musician and dancer. I'm guessing the indoctrinate part of the story was the racism that many of the people had in reacting to the cabaret, though I feel I didn't get to learn quite as much as I wanted to about the various cultures meeting. Still, it was good and thoughtful and complicated. So hurrah!
"Distant Gates of Eden Gleam" by Brian Trent (4992 words)
In this one an average sort of man gets brought into a secret organization that runs the world to be complicit in some pretty awful things. It's a story where he basically gets anything he wants, is giving everything that people would assume he wants, and yet still decides to do the right thing and outsmart the secret society and save the day. It's not a bad story, either, with some humor and some interesting ideas. I normally don't like these kinds of stories, though, that imply that there is this guy who seems average but is secretly incredible and does crazy things that benefit everyone. There's something...that just rubs me the wrong way about those kinds of stories. I would think that it's about how people who seem like they're not exceptional still have that potential, but...well, it seems more to be saying that just this one guy was good. Everyone else in the company was just complicit but stupidly so, which let him outsmart them all. Which is a bit of a stretch. And that he doesn't abolish the power structure bothered me a little. He just takes over. Which is...well, it brings its own set of problems that aren't addressed. But it still has some nice moments, and funny voice.
"The Lion God" by Benjamin Blattberg (3703 words)
A nice little story about a resistance fighter going up against a literal Lion God. It's an interesting idea, that a lion with miraculous powers shows up one day claiming to be God and because of those powers gains control of the world. Of course he implements some harsh rules that benefit him and play into a conservative agenda and so people start fighting back. Only the Lion God has a breath that can break wills. Luckily he's a bit too full of himself to just use it on the main character, because she is filled with poison and so as he tortures her on natural television to get a confession, he ends up kind of killing himself. And I do like that, that he had the power to save himself and didn't because he thought he was unassailable, and that this woman managed to hold out long enough to succeed. The ending was a little less clear, as people kind of go crazy but I never got that much an idea of what this place looks like. Still, it was a good story, and the main character manages to look at the face of death and not flinch.