Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Quick Sips - Shimmer #36 [April stuff]

The two stories from Shimmer’s April offerings are heavy with grief and the weight of the past. The weight of expectations. The weight of the family business. These are stories of people finding themselves swept away by the tides of other people’s lives and deeds. Subject to them and wounded by them, unsure if they can set those old hurts aside, unsure how to escape the hooks of the past and the obligations heaped on them by the generations that came before. For both main characters a time has come to both face the past and the future, and these stories do a wonderful job of capturing that moment with hope and despair, magic and possibilities. To the reviews!

Art by Sandro Castelli

“Extinctions” by Lina Rather ( words)

This story is, to me, about hunting and about monsters. About weapons and feeling strong. About a person with a strange relationship to their family and to their lineage. The piece features a main character who exists primarily in the second person. So they are, essentially, you. Their mother is in prison for killing a man, a hiker, who had been on their land. It might not have been so great a thing but your mother was a hunter, and not just of deer and game. She hunted monsters, and there’s a lot that goes into that, a lot that comes out of it as well. Hunting in that capacity requires in some ways becoming a monster, feeding off the hunt. It’s an uncomfortable part of the story that is handled well, showing how you itch to fight and to hunt and yet have gotten away from it. Until a woman shows up asking for help with a fistful of money to help make up your mind and then it’s a homecoming in more ways than one. There’s a sort-of Supernatural vibe going on here, focusing on the trauma of being a hunter and how it’s often passed down in a family, the knowledge and the skills, and how that can mess a person up, to be so much a part of that darker world. And I love how you end up dealing with this, confronting the legacy that you never wanted, finding a way out of the life that has already taken so much from you. There is a vein of guilt and desperation running through the piece, this feeling and fear that you can’t settle, that you are somehow broken. The fear is reflected in the way you run from your mother and family, how you’re not sure how to feel about your romantic relationship, your girlfriend. And I just like how everything draws together, how it takes going back to your childhood home to really figure things out and be able to finally move on. A beautiful story!

“And in That Sheltered Sea, a Colossus” by Michael Matheson ( words)

This is another piece about legacies and about guilt. About death and the weight that living a life alone can bring. And Ebunoluwa has lived alone for a long time with only the ghosts of the dead—a child that did not live to term and a mother who blames her with all her rage for not producing an heir for their line. The fate of Ebunoluwa is tied up with the fate of the world she inhabits, a world that seems very lonely and desolate from where she lives, a world existing in the wake of a catechism, just as Ebunoluwa is living in the wake of the personal tragedy that has defined her until now. And I just love the way the story shows that there is still life to be lived, that Ebunoluwa is not too old or too set in her way for change and for ambition. She has lived in waiting for most of her life, and there is a sense that so has the rest of the world—waiting to see what comes next, if life moves on or if life ends. It’s a rather passive experience, but luckily for them something does happen. A stranger comes along to give them a little nudge in the right direction. For the world, it means that old ghosts are being put to rest. That maybe recovery for begin. That maybe a new world can take shape out of the wreckage and hurt of the old one. For Ebunoluwa it means…well, it means what she wants it to mean. It’s means at the very least being unburdened from the ghosts. More than that has to come from within and I love how the story shows that, how it shows her making her decisions and plotting a course forward, into uncertainty perhaps but also into hope for a better world and a better life. It’s a moving and powerful story and you should definitely check it out!


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