Today's icon was meant to be yesterday's icon, but better late than never.
My thanks to Benjamin for sending me an excerpt from Strange Horizons and Richard Larson's review of Eclipse Four (ed. by Johnathan Strahan). I think this review is my reward for surviving the coming day, even if the reward's arrived before the actual chore. Dessert before dinner. Anyway, Larson writes:
For example, I think people will be talking about Caitlín R. Kiernan’s "Tidal Forces" for quite a while. The story is a meditation on the tragic inevitability of loss, the willing submission to unexplained forces that govern time and space, being and not being. Emily's lover, Charlotte, has been attacked by a mysterious shadow—"I can sit here all night long, composing a list of what it wasn't, and I'll never come any nearer to what it might have been" (p. 23)—and subsequently develops a steadily growing hole in her abdomen, later understood as "not merely a hole in Charlotte's skin, but a hole in the cosmos" (p. 26). Emily tries to derive a sense of linearity from what is happening by adopting a metaphor of a house of cards,
...held together by nothing more substantial than balance and friction. And the loops I'd rather make than admit to the present. Connecting dot-to-dot, from here to there, from there to here. Here being half an hour before dawn on a Saturday, the sky growing lighter by slow degrees. Here, where I’m on my knees, and Charlotte is standing naked in front of me. Here, now, when the perfectly round hole above her left hip and below her ribcage has grown from a pinprick to the size of the saucers she never uses for her coffee cups. (p. 19)
But she gets lost in the metaphor, lost in the senselessness of imminent loss, left to simply sit on the sidelines and watch Charlotte be consumed by something that might be the "inadvertent avatar of a god, or God, or a pantheon, or something so immeasurably ancient or pervasive that it may as well be divine" (p. 29). Kiernan employs a number of through lines and recurring images which deepen the narrative, opening it up to include the whole world, much as the hole in Charlotte's abdomen comes to include a "preposterous and undeniable blackness" (p. 26). Charlotte’s memory of being shot by a BB gun as a child, for example, connects a trauma from her past with this inexplicably traumatic present. And Emily's vocation as a writer affords an opportunity for her research about the Age of Exploration to comment on the very nature of storytelling: "All those overlooked islands, inaccessible plateaus in South American jungles, the sunken continents and the entrances to a hollow Earth, they were important psychological buffers against progress and certainty" (p. 18-19). The metaphor resonates directly with Emily and Charlotte's present project of explaining the unexplainable, of attaching a narrative to an experience which very well may exist outside of the realm of story, outside of the usual boundaries created by a measurable time and space. But "Tidal Forces" is at its most moving when these confrontations with the unknown are most closely aligned with the human factor, the idea of two people loving each other enough to believe anything for the other—especially if it might save her.
Nothing's gonna come close to beating that today. Anyway, yesterday – made it through two more of the stories in Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart, "Murder Ballad No. 6" and "Lullaby of Partition and Reunion." Hopefully, I'll get through at least two more today, because tomorrow I have to get Sirenia Digest #67 out to subscribers, and on Wednesday, it's back to actual writing.
On this day in 1911 – one hundred years ago – my maternal grandfather, Gordon Monroe Ramey, was born. He died in 1977, when he was 65 and I was 12.
Yesterday morning, I dreamed of being in a vast grocery store shortly after some or another worldwide cataclysm. All was chaos. And there was almost nothing left on the shelves. Spooky and I were taking a few items, and I felt incredibly horrible about not paying for them. Never mind that's very unlike me, or that there was no one to pay, or that paying for stuff at The End of the World makes little or no sense (speaking of Rift, someone needs to tell the vendors at Terminus this very thing). Anyway, I meant to include that bit of dream yesterday, but forgot.
Anyway, today will be tedious and long...and hot. And more I write on this entry, the more I see myself stalling. Just gonna keep trying to smile about that review.
Did I mention it's hot here?
Staring Down the Barrel,