The stories in the November half of the latest issue of Shimmer Magazine both deal with temptation. With the promise of relief and ease. With the growing knowledge that the promise is false. Whether facing down the devil or your own personal Hitler, the stories show that sometimes there are no shortcuts, no ways around having to face the harm and the evil. That you can't just wave your hand or fire a gun through a time hole and solve all your problems. That sometimes what you need to do is just face what's happened, what is happening, and find ways to move forward, to find a future worth living in. So without further delay, to the reviews!
|Art by Sandro Castelli|
"Skills To Keep the Devil In His Place" by Lia Swope Mitchell ( words)
This is a layered and interesting story about two young women encountering the Devil and slowly coming to terms with that experience. With evil. I like the way the story unfolds, first from the point of view of Rachel alone, feeling alone, trying to make sense of what's happening to her, how she can see the Devil and how he seems to bring out the worst in her and others. And then the story begins to open up when it brings in Julie, who at first seems so simple and pure and soon is revealed as a much more rounded and complete character. They both can see the Devil and there really is no guide for how to deal with that. So they try things. And those things (mostly) fail. But in some ways this is like a 12 steps program, where the earlier steps, though they're not really getting at the problem, are necessary. So that they know that it wouldn't work. That it doesn't work. That you can't ignore the Devil and you can't make room for the Devil and you can't make deals with the Devil. That ultimately there is no real running from the difficult problem of facing the darkness within, the evil within, the cruel person within who wants to hurt and lash out. The story does a very nice job of going through the process, of revealing how Rachel and Julie manage to help each other for being there for each other. It's a story with a very strong sense of friendship, of support, of belief. These women know what the other is going through and are able to stand together against the temptation of the Devil, the draw of not having to try or think about the difficult situations. It's especially powerful coming from the perspective of teens, at a time when it can feel like you really can't control what you say and feel. And it's nicely hitting story, kinda disturbing but in the best of ways and ultimately lifting and hopeful and definitely worth checking out!
"Number One Personal Hitler" by Jeff Hemenway ( words)
This is a rather weird story about time travel and about the repercussions that can happen trying to stop things from happening before they happen. The danger of going back in time to kill Hitler. Any Hitler, as it turns out, even if it's a personal one, even if it's just the worst thing that's ever happened to you. For the main character, who end up getting a time machine after someone comes back in time to kill him, it's the suicide of his brother. And so, armed with time, he goes back and tries to stop it. And, not really knowing how the time machine works, he has to go back more than once. And things get kind of strange at that point. It's a story that has a great emotional core, this wound that shapes the main character. I find it interesting that he spends so much time reaching back, trying to save his brother, and never thinks to ask himself why he's number 4 on a list of people to kill throughout time, ahead of actual Hitler. Perhaps it has something to do with the way that he keeps going back, despite the dangers, despite everything, trying to undo this thing that he's made about him, as if he was the victim of his brother's death. It's a situation that's dark and that's deep and it's a complex piece, nicely constructed, that circles around the idea of time and going back. Of having to resist the urge to fix things. Because as long as people go back to try and change the past they will likely succeed. But, as the story reveals, some Hitlers don't stay dead. Some harms cannot be erased. And there is something to be said about going forward. About having to get better. And while I'm not a hundred percent sure about the ending, the story is captivating and intense and heavy and a good read!
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