Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Thought That Counts, by K.J. Parker

★★★☆☆ Average

(Fantasy Adventure) Constantius, a con man on the run from the law, arrives in Sempa on business of his own, but lets himself get tangled up in the problems of a girl he met on his way into town. (8,683 words; Time: 28m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 250, published on .

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

Pro: There are several hints that the paintings might harm people. There are the early comments about them capturing people’s souls, and there’s the discussion about how freezing life at the perfect moment would be much the same as dying. “There’s no future to it.”

It's possible to read this as a subversion of the "Mary Sue" idea. Constantius is a Mary Sue in that he's a great philosopher and a great lawyer and a great con-man--whatever he turns his hand to. But, unlike a real Mary Sue, all of his accomplishments have brought him only sorrow.

Con: It feels like two different stories grafted together. We learn that the first part with the legal challenge was an exercise in futility because Sinneva couldn’t be killed anyway. In the second part (the long flashback), we get the narrator’s backstory, but all he does at the end is run away.

Also, his Mary-Sue-like super competence is almost as annoying as the real thing.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 250)
K.J. Parker Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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