Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Visionaries, by Albert E. Cowdrey

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(Urban Fantasy) Jimmy and Morrie's "Paranormal Services" investigates a haunted forest--tree farm, actually. (7,160 words; Time: 23m)

Rating: ★★★★☆, Recommended

"The Visionaries," by , appeared in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction issue 01-02|16, published on by .

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

Pro: When Morrie reports that it isn't a place where something terrible happened--it's a place where something terrible is going to happen, we get a cold chill. There's high tension from that point up until the two men return to Arizona.

Then when we learn what the terrible event is--that the man who's going to destroy the world will be conceived there--we feel cold all over again.

Other parts of the story fit together nicely; the silver coins that Morrie is bringing back from Taos come up again to express just how worried he is about the future. (And, of course, silver is traditionally a defense against creatures of evil.)

Con: Jimmy and Morrie's interactions as longtime companions struck us as unnatural. Not all couples are the same, of course, but they behave like a couple in their first year together--not a couple with a decade or more to get used to each other.

It also seemed like an awfully big coincidence that Jimmy and Morrie arrived just days before the big event. It's hard to see how Jimmy knew that they only needed to wait a little while, given that the forest had been haunted for centuries.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I had pretty much the same feelings about this one. I liked how things tied together: Milton's story of a more literal monster being conceived there and the local historian's information about Milton's monstrous relatives. That type of person with his wife's ambition would be a dangerous combo.

    I also found Jimmy's ungenerous thoughts about Morrie a little much. I'd expect them to be balanced out with more affection than we saw here.

  2. It's nice to see stories that focus on settled gay male couples; this is one of only three or four in the past two years. Morrie is a bit stereotypical, but people like him certainly exist. (Minus the magical powers.) It even plays to a very old idea that the only men with magical powers were effeminate homosexuals--like Uncle Arthur on Bewitched.

    The problem with the relationship in the story isn't even that a couple with that much conflict wouldn't stick together. Sometimes, for whatever reason, they do. But in those cases (all that I can think of) they both sought affection from other people. I'd find it easier to believe Jimmy and Morrie's relationship if they either a) showed real affection for each other or b) casually talked with each other about their outside flings. I have trouble believing in a long-term, poisonous, monogamous relationship between two guys.

  3. This wasn't my favorite Jimmy and Morrie story... that probably goes to "A Haunting in Love City" (F&SF Jan/Feb 2013). At least there their relationship problems ARE more relevant to the story.