Today I'm checking out Strange Horizons, which I keep on wondering if I should tackle every two weeks or every month like I do Tor.com or Terraform but because there's at least two things to look at every week I'm going to keep doing it every week. Plus, having a shorter place gives me a little bit of a breather. Anyway, that has nothing to do with reviews. Onward!
"The Ticket Taker of Cenote Zací" by Benjamin Parzybok (6771 words)
The story about a young poet who takes a job selling tickets to a small, magical pool, this one got me right in the feels. The setting is great, with Eduardo working at a small tourist spot and slowly coming to realize that something is going on when people go in that don't come out. Only no one but he remembers the people. Even if the person was with someone else they are forgotten. And this feeds Eduardo's creativity. He writes and he writes amazing works and meanwhile the mystery of pool deepens and eventually costs Eduardo something very precious indeed. I loved this story. Eduardo is fun and irreverent and the tourist spot is something that everyone can recognize. And yet there are darker things at work, and Eduardo is the only one to notice. And then the story takes an even more tragic turn and I just wanted it to end well so badly. So badly, and so the ending kind of killed me. I'm here and just sort of staring and it was great and powerful and really, this is one to read. I'm not sure really, though, what it might be saying to have him be prolific when the disappearances happen. Like he's somehow complicit with the creatures that are stealing people. Like it keeps him from questioning things too much, and though he wants to do something about it he doesn't because things are going so well for him. Only that happiness cannot last because of his role in everything and of course he would fall victim to it, too. But wow, it's something. A great story.
"He Never Offered" by Cid V. Brunet
A rather surreal poem about a person waiting for a bus and seeing the world around them, the ugliness and the ragged edges. It's the end of the world, but less of the apocalyptic kind and more of the moral death kind, a sea of things dying and trying to live but getting it all wrong. It has an uneven stanza length and the imagery is slippery, disjointed a bit. There is a lot of chaos here, a tornado like those described in the poem. It all works and gets across the feel I think it's going for, but this one was a bit hard to parse for me. I like it, but I'm left wondered at certain part what it means. It does seem to be making a statement about the way of things, that person waiting for the bus and standing in the middle of a chaotic storm. Interesting work.