Friday, May 5, 2017

Sun, Moon, Dust, by Ursula Vernon

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(High Fantasy) Allpa receives a magic sword on his grandmother’s deathbed. Three spirits in the sword are supposed to train him to be a mighty warrior, but he really just wants to be a better farmer. (4,264 words; Time: 14m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention
Recommended By: RHorton+1 JMcGregor+1

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 16, published on .

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

Pro: Allpa really does need help with his farm. He needs more labor, and he needs better ideas for making his crops grow. Also, as a boy with no interest in a wife, he needs a companion.

The sword doesn’t make him a warrior, but by giving Moon to him, it fulfills its oath to his grandmother. Whether it’s that or Allpa’s love that turns Moon into a real person, it’s very sweet.

Con: Allpa is too passive to be a satisfying protagonist. His grandmother pushes him around. The spirits in the sword push him around. Even his goat pushes him around. He ends the story much better off than he started it, but not because of anything he personally did to earn it.

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6 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I really enjoyed the farm boy is the chosen one trope turned on its ear. Farm boy just wants to grow a better potato!

    1. I didn't think about that angle. Trouble with it is that a story about growing better potatoes lacks the sort of drama and tension that we usually expect. :-)

    2. No, but it was refreshing. Instead of being eager to escape, he actually wants to stay home and be responsible for the farm. Moon found that admirable and was inspired to stay.

  2. It felt like this story was trying to do the work of a whole Pratchett novel in 5,000 words. It didn't succeed. Why would Granny-not-Weatherwax think that Allpa-not-Esk had any use for the sword? It was clear from the way the warriors appeared that they expected to be summoned in battle. And why would Moon stay behind with Allpa? You can't tell me he didn't have better prospects than a potato farmer. Then there's Sun's constant smiling, which breaks one of the cardinal rules of comedy, which is don't laugh (or have your characters laugh) at your own jokes. Buster Keaton learned that one a century ago. In the end, this was a marginally cute story at best.


  3. why did Granny think Allpa had any use for the sword - maybe she didn't, but to who else was she going to bequeath it?

    1. It's pretty clear she really didn't want to give it to him, but she had no other options.

      It did occur to me, though, that the sword would be very useful if you ever had to worry about bandits. Assuming they'd fight for you and not just nag you for not helping them fight. :-)