Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Plausibility of Dragons, by Kenneth Schneyer

Lightspeed Magazine, November 2015; 6,342 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story  Recommended By:  Locus

In which Malik, a Moor from Cordoba, and Fara, a lady knight, unite to hunt a powerful and uniquely deceitful dragon.

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

Pro: Ironic that part of the dragon's illusion is to cause people not to believe in lady knights. It was a very interesting idea that the dragon killed through causing people to disbelieve themselves. Malik's trick of writing things down to hold off the illusion seems to be a metaphor for the power of the written word to banish superstitions.

The fact that no one tells stories about them anymore suggests that they might have lost their last fight.

Con: It's a simple, direct story. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special about it either.

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Well, this one was about as subtle as a brick to the head.

    Wow, this one *really* didn't work for me. It started out light-hearted and with a bunch of interesting points, and then it turns out the heart of the story is a Dragon of Whitewashing and Gender Roles. I don't have words for how very extremely I am unable to take such a story seriously. This might've worked really well for me as a humor piece, but I don't feel that's what it is at all - except maybe as a strange form of in-joke.

    It's funny because the previous story I'd read was *also* an extremely blunt metaphor, but I loved that one. I'm wondering why I loved that one and couldn't stand this one.
    I think because that one ("Who Will Greet You At Home," by Lesley Nneka Armiah) constantly works on both levels; one aspect reinforcing the other. Whereas this one is basically "Huge real-world social problem, but here it's MAGIC."
    That... I dunno, doesn't give me anything. It's arbitrary; the main value is in *recognizing* that what's going on is something we're already familiar with. In a way, it kind of trivializes the issue; simplifies a major, complex issue into "evil draconian magic."

    Soo, ummm. Not for me, this one :P

    1. Well, if it broke your ability to suspend disbelief that badly, then it definitely failed for you, but are you sure you're not reading too much into it? At most, I think the author used the real-world social problem as inspiration for a story.

      Back in my activist days, we used to talk about the problem of "lesbian invisibility" in the media. If I wrote a story where people hated and feared lesbians because of their ability to become invisible, would that really count as message fiction?