Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Untilted, by K.A. Teryna

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(Modern Fantasy (Russian)) Little Marcus walks the Moscow Metro at Midnight looking for stray animals and lost souls to heal. But he needs something too. (7,692 words; Time: 25m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Clever and Touching.

"Untilted," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 102, published on .

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

Pro: Marcus’s grandmother took away too much of his pain; now he can’t feel her at all—or not enough, anyway. When he takes away the pain of others, he uses it to reach his grandmother again.
Dahlia’s problem is simple enough; she mourns her husband too deeply, and irrationally blames herself for his death. By playing Marcus’s game, she gets the relief she needs.

The interactions between Marcus and his mother add a good bit of charm to the story. It’s priceless when she calls for him to bring her bag—even though he was supposed to be in bed asleep, she knows he’s really listening at the door.

Con: Given the themes of death and regret, it ought to be more moving than it is. I can’t quite figure out why it’s not.

The story appears to contradict itself about where the pain goes. Earlier, it suggests that the operator of the music box takes the pain from someone else, but later it suggests that the pain stays inside the box.

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K.A. Teryna Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. Such a sweet and quirky story for being about pain and grief.
    Really excellent characterization. Also seems to be well translated. The translator said it was the most challenging story he'd done, and a fellow translator had declared it untranslatable!

    The music box is temporary storage. The operator puts someone else's pain in in order to take their own pain back out in equal measure. Marcus helps the kitten; he feels his scraped knee. He takes Dahlia's grief; he feels his own grief.