Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Shining Hills, by Susan Palwick

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(Urban Fantasy) Some nights shining lights appear atop hills in urban areas, and people who walk into them disappear—some say to fairyland. A cop who thinks otherwise tries to talk a young woman out of trying it. (3,848 words; Time: 12m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 87, published on .

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

Pro: Niff seeks the lights, and gets what she came for. Whether she lives or dies, we don’t know, but the key thing is that she makes her choice; the outcome is a matter of faith, and the story leaves it at that.

Seamus obviously wants to symbolically save his lost daughter, and in that he fails. However, he seems to have finally accepted that it wasn’t his fault, that there was nothing he could have done to stop her. He doesn’t “save” Niff either, but he remains true to himself, and that has to be victory enough.

It’s possible to read the story as symbolizing losing a child to an addiction or an obsession.

Con: It’s a bit of a letdown that nothing is resolved in the story. We end up knowing nothing more at the end than the beginning.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I think the resolution - or at least the reveal - is that we find that Seamus is really acting out of contradictory motives: he is attracted to the music, he's tempted to go find his daughter, but he's also guilty about his daughter inheriting his ability and he rejects the idea of running away from his problems. It puts his character into a new light.

    1. It's something of a cliche that the difference between genre stories and literary ones is that in literary stories nothing actually changes except that the protagonist ends with a better understanding of his/her situation. However, I didn't feel that quite amounted to enough to recommend the story, although I thought about it.

      Maybe I need an "honorable mentions" category like Jason McGregor has. :-)

  2. I really liked the ending. Niff goes realizing that it might not be the answer to all her problems. Seamus stays with a little more resolution about what happened to his daughter.