Sunday, September 6, 2015

Last Hunt, by Vylar Kaftan

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A young, pre-European Inuit girl and her cousin witness a falling spaceship, and she insists they investigate, wondering if it is a message from the spirits. (5,336 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended

"," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09|15, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Excellent tale. The narrator has very non-western ideas about gender, but. with some hesitation, I'll use "she" as a pronoun for lack of a better one in English. She's not transsexual in the modern western sense; instead, as the reincarnation of a man, she has been a boy with a vagina. But this is her last hunt as a boy, after which she expects to have babies and become a woman. She's totally comfortable with that, and everyone else (including her husband) seems to be too. Her concerns are about him not being a good provider--not about the change in her role. Regardless, her narration makes us totally comfortable with her indeterminate gender.

We're also very comfortable with her explanation of the alien in terms of spirits. Even though we're pretty sure we know what's really happening here, she manages to make her reality ours. Her kindness to the alien without asking anything in return is touching.

And yet she gets what she most wanted; she comes away certain that she does want to be a shaman after all. I had been ready for a conventional ending--or even a magical one where the aliens turned her into a real boy--but this is far more satisfying.

The only reason I don't think this one merits 5 stars is that the scope is so small and the stakes are so low. (She might have reached the same decision anyway.) Still, it's a wonderful little story.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating and the review. It is a very good story that was worth reading.

  2. The story is available on the author's website:

    Very interesting look at gender issues.

    1. Thanks, I've updated the review with the story link.