Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Midnight Funk Association, by Mack Leonard

Interzone, July-August 2015; ~7,500 words
Rating: 4, Recommended  Recommended By:  Locus

Bunchess Taylor, a black musician in Detroit, learns that someone or something is poisoning Detroit's music when his assistant, "the white boy," buys an extra-sensitive piece of equipment.

Lois Tilton recommended this story, and it won the 2015 James White Award.

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

Pro: This is about how Bunchess got out of his slump and found a reason to live again. His character is very well filled out. In fact, the story is more about filling out his character than anything else. Even though he thinks he's going to die at the end (or at least be imprisoned), he's planning to wear those special shoes because he's ready to live again, and he means to put up a fight.

The story manages to show us a lot of info without telling it. Bunchess doesn't go to the police because he doesn't trust them. He doesn't post about this on the Internet because he lacks the tech savvy to do so. He doesn't suspect that the white boy was abducted until he learns that he'd secretly arranged to play a gig. (He easily disbelieves the boy's claims that he'd never work for such a place, but he cannot credit walking away from a gig.) Almost every sentence contributes something to the story--often in two or three different ways.

Con: The company is a cardboard villain. We never learn what they're doing or why it matters to much to them.

Even though we feel we know Bunchess pretty well by the end, we still don't particularly like him. This deprives the story of a big emotional push at the end.

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