Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Snatch Me Another

Short Story by Mercurio Rivera
Published free online in Abyss & Apex #25, 2008
Read for Starship Sofa by Liz Mierzejewski

A very dark tale of two parents mourning the loss of a child. One turns to drugs and despair and withdraws from everything, the other goes fairly crazy, and remains happy. Both of these reactions play out to tragic extremes by the end. To complicate matters, this takes place in a near future where we've developed the technology to bring things over from other universes.

Both main characters are well characterized and empathetic in their madness. It's easy to imagine either reaction being your own, although you'd hope to be stronger, or at least more stable. There is a spinning, terrifying, sickening, vertigo feel to some of the description that's much more effective than the bland description so common in stories with this sort of technology. It seems perfectly real, but horribly so. Everything from the clouds to the minister to the drug inhalers at the beginning foreshadows the end and builds on some of the themes.

That said, I'm glad I went back and read this as text. The audio didn't work for me nearly as well here. I might not have given it a second chance if it weren't for the impression of brilliance behind the narration.

I have to say I'm not a fan of Mierzejewski's voice. She does do different voices for the characters, but the two main ones run together at times, I don't really like her voice in the narration, and there is something in her cadence that just sort of bothers me. The speed changes make things a little harder to follow than they could be. She does capture a lot more emotion toward the end though, but there's a singsong quality to the beginning that feels out of place in such a dark tale. It's so rare to be disappointed in a Starship Sofa narration that I'm still a bit surprised.

So, not something for a light mood, but dark and thoughtful and terrible, in the best possible way. Snatch me another story from Mercurio Rivera. 4.5 out of 5.

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