Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Place Without Portals, by Adam-Troy Castro

★★☆☆☆ 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.

    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.

    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.