Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Death of Paul Bunyan, by Charles Payseur

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(Slipstream) Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan broke up years ago, but he still gets called in to answer questions about his death. (2,802 words; Time: 09m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"The Death of Paul Bunyan," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 79, published on .

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

Pro: The story is rich with symbolism. Paul Bunyan represents the settlement of North America--the taming of the continent, while Johnny Appleseed represents the growth of agriculture. This is why Paul ends up working with a fracking outfit. Their sexual relationship mirrors the way development damages farmland. It's not normal for the bottom to be sore after anal sex; Johnny is sore because Paul is too rough with him, but then they both liked it rough--a fair metaphor for the relationship between industry and agriculture over the years.

The conclusion suggests that if the environment is to be saved, Paul had to be sacrificed, and now Johnny needs to be sacrificed too. If there's to be a future at all, we'll have to deal with the world in a different way.

Con: Stripped of the message, there's not an interesting story here.

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