Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Fourth Hill, by Dennis E. Staples

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(Native American Modern Fantasy) Callum can talk with native American dwarf spirits, but will they make his problems on the reservation better or worse? (6,087 words; Time: 20m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"The Fourth Hill," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 09-10|17, published on by .

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

Pro: We learn a lot about who Callum is simply from the way he describes his problems. The kids at school hassle him for supporting the effort to clean up the pollution. His grandfather is getting more and more erratic. His grades have slipped and his dreams of being a scientist have faded with them.

The Memegwesi don’t really help his situation much. The way the spirit laughs at him and refuses to deliver on his request to heal his grandfather pretty much reads like a harsh demand that he grow up and quit looking to magic to solve his problems.

Callum's description of how his grandfather struggles to make peace with Nathan's boyfriend, Mateo, is very well done. The old man's prejudices run very deep, and he can only come so far, but he tries very hard, in his own way.

Con: The bits of the story don’t really stick together. What was the point of the Memegwesi? We’d like to read this as a coming-of-age story, but it’s not clear that Callum has learned anything. He ends the story just waning to die.

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