Monday, December 12, 2016

Das Steingeschöpf, by G.V. Anderson

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(Historical Fantasy) On the eve of the Nazi takeover, a young German man's first assignment fixing a living statue becomes more complicated than he expected. (6,388 words; Time: 21m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Moving story with strong characters

"," by (edited by Niall Harrison), appeared in issue 12/12/16, published on .

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

The narrator wants to accomplish his first assignment, but he also wants to heal his loss of Franz. Friederike wants to be sure Ambroise is able to take care of himself once she's gone. And Ambroise himself wants the freedom to go. All four goals are achieved.

The story develops the narrator's affection for Franz gradually, in the affectionate way it describes his early, filthy-mouthed work, and the way the two of them stood together against their teacher and the other students. We know something terrible has happened to Franz when the narrator mentions that he can't remember the exact shade of his hair. But by taking away some of his memories, the Queckstein does him a kindness and softens his pain.

The narrator never knows if Franz returned his feelings. Odds are, most likely he didn't, and the narrator was wise not to test Franz's sculptures. But we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Franz loved him, because it shines from almost every paragraph that he's in.

The stone golems make for an interesting magical technology, and I loved the image of the Statue of Liberty wading in the harbor and greeting newcomers in French.

Key German words and phrases from the story:
Grau
gray
Für den Mann mit den roten Haaren
For the man with the red hair
Keine Hunde
No dogs
Keine Juden
No Jews
Schöpfer
creator
Steingeschöpf
stone creature (stone golem)
Sturmabteilung
stormtrooper
Wasserspeier
gargoyle



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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. This is a very good story. I agree with your comments "moving story with strong characters". I am very glad I took the time to read it online.

    I was very surprised when I found out this author is in her 1st year of Campbell eligibility. This story is very polished. Thanks to this story she is going on my Campbell nominations.

    This story was also voted 2nd Place with Strange Horizon readers in the Fiction category - http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/azimuth/editorials/the-2016-readers-poll/

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