Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Place Without Portals, by Adam-Troy Castro

[Lightspeed]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(Portal Fantasy) She was not the chosen one; that was only a dream. She did not flee our world via a magic mirror, and she was not chased by pig monsters, but she did wake up in her own bed. (2,148 words; Time: 07m)


"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 95, published on .

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

Pro: I think the story is trying to make the point that the real world is more dangerous and scary than any fantasy world could be.

Con: This gets dull fast, and the outcome isn’t enough to make it worth slogging through the rest of it.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. While I agree that this is Not Recommended, I'm surprised you gave this any rating unless I missed some way in which it is genre. (Anything that would have been fantastic did *not* happen.) I read it practically the same but with a slight variation - the real world *is* scarier and more dangerous but I think it was specifically addressing that, whatever it is, there is no "escape" from it - no better fantasy world to go to. No land of adventures. No life-changing magic.

    It's almost like it was directly inspired (or "dispired" as a variation on "dispirited") by Harrow's "A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies" though I doubt it could have been written and published so quickly after her February story, even in the world of webzines.

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    Replies
    1. I've been pretty generous about reviewing anything that's at least fantasy-adjacent, although in the beginning I took a much harder line. This one was a close call, for all the reasons you cite.

      That said, it's very obvious that some stories (not this one, of course) are clearly the result of someone taking a non-SFF story and adding just the smallest speculative element so they could submit it to a genre magazine. I do rate those, but I rarely if ever recommend them. Those bother me worse than this does though.

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    2. Okay, I must have gotten your earlier approach stuck in my head. :)

      And, yep, there are some stories that have a very subtle speculative element but it feels integrated and I sometimes like those a lot, at least in fantasy but it's almost never good when there's just a little something bolted on. I'll grant that this was thoroughly "anti-fantasy" (or whatever would be best to describe it) and not bolted on.

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