Monday, February 1, 2016

Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass, by Jeremiah Tolbert

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(Urban Fantasy) Rabbit holes open at random, summoning people to fairy-tale universes where they are the heroes. Louisa keeps waiting for one to open for her. (5,142 words; Time: 17m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: SFRevu:4 GDozois:4 RHorton:5

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 69, published on .

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

Pro: On the surface, the story is about how Louisa comes to realize that the new world is the best place for her. She even finds a prince charming. In a deeper sense, the story tells us that serious readers don't need rabbit holes because they have their choice of thousands already. Nicely done.

Con: The ending doesn't produce an emotional release. It's a little unsatisfying that Louisa has to have everything explained to her--she's very passive there at the end.

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I liked this one too. It was pleasingly meta (there was a Mieville joke at one point I think) and although it seems obvious in retrospect I'd never actually seen this idea explored in this fashion - treating books of this type as being a shared mythology. I felt it lacked a certain something at the end in order to elevate it though - perhaps it needed to hook into that mythology more.

    1. I think Louisa would have had to be more active--trying to do something besides merely survive long enough to find her own rabbit hole. Even if she did end up being rescued by her prince, we should still feel like she earned it rather than just stumbling onto it.

      Structurally, it's still a fantastic piece (by my standards, anyway); it just fails to engage us with the heroine.

  2. Really loved this one. But I too wish she had recognized on her own how wondrous the "real" world was becoming. I expected her to ask the Others why they were moving into this world, making her see it with new perspective. Realize she was no longer looking for the way out. Then it could still end with her noticing the guy who liked it here too.

  3. I rate this story ★★★★★, one more than RSR. I found this story very imaginative and a fun read. Between this story and Seanan McGuire's excellent "Every Heart a Doorway," it seems like multi-portal world stories are popular now. It's about time, since mystical heroes like Dr. Strange and the Sandman in Marvel and DC have dealt with alternate realities/dimensions for a long time. :-)