Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Thule Stowaway, by Maria Dahvana Headley

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(Fantasy Horror) Edgar Allan Poe’s writing has brought a creature into this world and it inhabits a young woman who wants to be rid of it. It has its own agenda. (11,412 words; Time: 38m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Rich, complex, rewarding to Poe fans.

You’ll get more out of the story if you read the short poem, Dream-Land, by Edgar Allan Poe, and then read a bit about the strange history of the Ultima Thule Daguerreotype before reading this story. Or start reading the story and then take a look if it gets confusing.
"The Thule Stowaway," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 14, published on .

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

The “Ultima Thule”
Background: The famous “Ultima Thule” Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe was taken on Thursday, November 9, 1848. In reality, Poe was brought there by a Mr. MacFarlane, of whom nothing else is known. Likewise no one knows who the poem Annabel Lee was about. "Annabel MacFarlane" simply combines these mysterious people into one person.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote “Dream-Land” in June 1844, so the creature has been after him for four years.

Pro: There are three strands to the plot. Poe wants to find his creature and get his soul back. He’s half successful. Annabel wants to get rid of the creature and resume her life. She’s half-successful. The creature wants to consume Poe and resume ruling its kingdom. It too is half-successful.

 In the end, Poe is possessed by the creature, and in his final year he writes things like “Annabel Lee” before he dies. He and the creature presumably die together, but they’re also immortalized together.

Annabel herself, vanished from this world with Poe’s soul and her own, rules over Thule uncontested.

Con: We don’t make any emotional connection with the characters in the story.

Although we know something magical is going to happen when the picture is taken, nothing has prepared us for Annabel becoming the ruler of Thule, nor does that seem like a really great outcome for her.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 14)
Maria Dahvana Headley Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I read this "cold" and enjoyed it very much, and following up on the details just improved it.
    I'm a fan of this sort of "secret history" style of story, and this was very well done. The nested narratives could have got confusing but they were actually really well-handled.

  2. Very clever job of weaving Poe's life and work into a tale. Like you, I didn't really find the characters very engaging though. Perhaps I would haven enjoyed it more if I was more familiar with Poe's work and his life. I'm glad I found your links before I read this.