Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Creeping Women, by Christopher Barzak

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(Literature) In Victorian England, Jennie keeps house at a rented summer estate where her brother's wife is trying to recuperate from madness. (7,327 words; Time: 24m)

Rating: Not Rated, No Speculative Element

"," by [], appeared in Uncanny Magazine [] issue 8, published on .

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

Pro: It's a well-written account of Jane's gradual descent into madness.

Con: Jane's delusions are clearly just that. The conclusion implies that Jennie will now take advantage of Jane (whom we know wasn't interested in that sort of relationship with her).

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree that it can be read as entirely non-SF, but it is a retelling of The Yellow Wallpaper, which has multiple available interpretations - Lovecraft considered it to be horror. The original probably does a better job of suggesting that Jane's delusions may be real.
    I don't think it was that successful as a story, but I found it interesting for how it twists the original.

  2. As Mark said this is one of those "tell the same story from a different point of view" exercises like "Mary Reilly" being a retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or "The Dracula Tapes" telling it from the vampire's point of view.

    As to the speculative elements it depends on if you think Jane is mad or if she really is seeing the trapped women in the wallpaper.

    BTW You can listen to "The Yellow Wallpaper" on the SFFAudio podcast with some interesting discussion afterwards.

  3. I enjoyed it as a re-telling of The Yellow Wallpaper, but this does move further away from a possible supernatural interpretation than the original.

    I didn't even think of that implication at the end, but you're right, Jennie could step right into John's shoes as Jane's abuser.