Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Them Boys, by Nora Anthony

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(Modern Fantasy) The narrator and her best friend explore the beach where other teens hang out, but the real action is in the little cave with the boys from the sea who have tails instead of legs. (6,477 words; Time: 21m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Rich, Deep, Satisfying

"," by (edited by Jane Crowley and Kate Dollarhyde), appeared in issue 11/06/17, published on .

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

Pro: There are a lot of interesting pieces to this story. It's fun to see how they all work together.

The narrator is half mer, although she doesn’t realize it. The overarching story is how she learned of her dual heritage and chose to explore it, ultimately diving into the sea, where we already know she can hold her breath forever.

Her mom’s story is parallel. As a girl, she seduced a merman and had to abandon her community in order to bear the child. Given the sexual innocence of the mermen, it’s hard to see this as anything but abuse, and the narrator is still paying for it, even after all these years. This seaside community is still her home, she has deep roots here and people who care about her, but she’ll always be a fish-out-of-water here.

There are a lot of delightful hints that let us know what's coming. For example, we learn that mermaids are bigger and stronger than mermen, so we realize later that the narrators large breasts don’t really come from her aunt on her mom’s side. When Okon takes her underwater, she easily stays longer than anyone else and doesn’t want to leave, even though it was so long that he feared he’d drowned her, which gives us a clue that she’s not fully human.

There’s probably a deeper message here about children of parents from different worlds who have trouble deciding where they fit, but it’s a little harder to see it clearly. Perhaps we can discuss that in the comments.

On a lesser note, the image of a black, teenage merman listening to his iPod is priceless. (Perhaps it should be called "fish rap.")

Con: The characters don’t enlist our sympathy. The narrator has no compassion for her mother, and feels no guilt for the pain she caused Okon. The mom just seems sad, and she seems determined not to even try to be happy. The keeps the story from being having much of an emotional impact.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 11/06/17)
Nora Anthony Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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