Saturday, February 20, 2016

Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds, by Rose Lemberg

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(High Fantasy; Birdverse) Raised by her grandmothers, Aviya thinks about her future, and thinks about trying to find the source of a magical scrap of "cloth of the wind." (14,023 words; Time: 46m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: Nebula

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 175, published on .

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

Pro: The story showcases some very rich worldbuilding. The different cultures, the system of magic, even the languages all seem very real. The plot has multiple threads, since each character has a different objective. Aviya wants to find where the cloth came from because she imagines the makers can help her brother. Grandmother-nai-Tammah wants to become a man. Gitit wants Aviya and her to be a couple. And whatever Kimi wants, it's clear the whole story moves towards his destiny.

The gender issues are complex and interesting. Kimi is a biological boy whose culture forces him to be a girl. Grandmother-nai-Tammah is more familiar: a man in a woman's body.

At the end, everyone has what they wanted, or needed, but with a catch or a cost. Elder-nai-Tammah is a man, but has no idea how to be a man. Kimi has acquired a "deepname" but is still almost mute. Gitit and Aviya are a couple, but they're so unconventional they'll have troubles in the future.

Fittingly for a story about cloth, every plot thread is neatly tied off at the end.

Con: Forcing a little boy to live as a girl might work, but unless they castrated him (which it seems clear they did not), this is bound to fail when he reaches puberty. Yet no one ever worries about it.

The story doesn't manage to produce strong feelings about the characters, one way or the other.

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