Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Quick Sip - GigaNotoSaurus January 2017

It's 2017 and today I'm kicking off my second year of reading GigaNotoSaurus. I must say that since starting in January of last year this publication has definitely shined for me as a source of some consistently awesome slightly longer SFF. And this month's offering is no exception, building an intricate and intriguing world and populating it with compelling characters and capricious gods. This fantasy builds an interesting and layered magic system and tells the story of resistance, power, and love. It's a great way to kick off a new year of stories and I'm going to jump right in to my review!

"The Poetics of Defiance" by Daniel Ausema (8221 words)

This is an interesting story about unfairness and mockery, about two people trying for a life that fits them and finding at every turn the world arrayed against them. Or, more precisely, the gods, small vengeful spirits that hound them, that twist what they do against them. That humiliate them, though they can't actually stop their work or crush their spirits. More like these gods are trying to break them, to force them to give up, to force them to despair. For Drabeth and Sylls, though, it's a challenge to rise above. They are beset by these seemingly-arbitrary forces that oppress and discourage them. And they fight, fight because they're not willing to just be jokes. They fight even when it's dangerous, even when they seem to be fated to die because of it. Because no one can fight against the gods and win, right?

[SPOILERS] The answer, of course, is both yes and no, and I love the story for making a rather complicated point on how successful the two can be in the face of these spirits, these gods. The reasons for why they are tormented are always rather murky, but it seems to come down to the fact that the gods can't stand the thought of them leaving and following their dreams. Their ability and their ambition made them into targets and I love that because it seems so often the case, that people with power target those who they think might be a threat just by existing. Because these people seem to defy the power. Because they have decided to find another way to live that isn't malicious or mean, that is kind and affirming and caring. Because they fight "mischief" with love. And I love how the story draws that out, showing the characters slowly discovering that the power the gods possess is largely to shame them, to humiliate them, but when truly pressed it's human ability that wins the day, even if it comes with something of a cost. And the cost is interesting to me, that by defying the gods the characters, or at least Drabeth, becomes marked as different. As…wrong. And yet that the characters have their own power to redefine right and wrong away from what the gods decree.

And the setting is an interesting one where magic is the shape of poems and alchemical concoctions and the relationship between the two main characters helps to show how those aspects of magic blend together and how they can even bend the will of the gods. It's a rather charming story, one that shows the many ways that power seeks to discredit those who might defy it by using humiliation and shame. By preying on the fears and prejudices of people. By making resistance seem impossible when really it comes down to doing the work and taking a stand. It's a fun, uplifting story that definitely worth checking out!


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