Friday, May 27, 2016

Cloud Dweller, by E. Catherine Tobler

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(Historical Fantasy) Vasily is a tightrope walker for the circus. When he thinks no one is around, he walks in thin air on lines of light only he can see. (8,295 words; Time: 27m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 199, published on .

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

Pro: Vasily mourns his lost wife, and wants "to walk without wires and disappear." By the end of this tale, he'll do exactly that.

The story escalates in measured steps. First Vasily walks on lines only he can see. Then he senses someone else, thinking it to be his dead wife. Then he sees someone else--a stranger--and learns he's calling for help.

We know from the start that the hotel was moved in the past and is filled with ghosts, and we've heard the mysterious call of the "canyon maggot," so we know something is afoot. Vasily himself thinks the lines lead to another world, if only he could find it. So he's not surprised that the incompletely-moved hotel somehow anchors a place where two worlds meet, and that the "maggot" is a firebird that feeds off of both of them.

Working together, the two repair this fault in the universe, which mirrors the fault in Vasily's own, personal universe, where he lived in this world, his wife is in the next world, and he continued to miss her.

The conclusion appears to say that he fell from the wire, landing with a thud in the road, and it would seem that he died, because for the first time, he could walk beyond the end of his line and meet his beloved wife in the sky.

Con: The ending is vague enough that we can imagine that he didn't die but simply walked into the next world as a living man.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 199)
E. Catherine Tobler Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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