Monday, August 6, 2018

Venus Witch's Ring, by Inda Lauryn

[Strange Horizons]
★★★★☆ Sophisticated and Moving

(Modern Fantasy) Dora wants to make a deal with the devil to give her musical talent, but first the devil wants her to experience the life of a real talent who died forgotten. (7,000 words; Time: 23m)

You need to have an interest in the history of rock & roll music to enjoy this story

"," by (edited by Sheree RenΓ©e Thomas and Rasha Abdulhadi, Erin Roberts), appeared in issue 07/30/18, published on .

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

Pro: In our world, Lisa committed suicide in 1978, which is why none of us has ever heard of her. Dora lives an alternate reality in which Lisa lived and made big changes to the music world and eventually got some credit for it. Dora’s choice at the end is as follows:
  1. Return the ring, making the alternate reality real (so Dora’s rich life would mean something), but Lisa herself would have to face that reality with the same meagre talents she started with.
  2. Keep the ring, live out the rest of Lisa’s life in the alternate reality, but accept that when it ends, it’ll all be for nothing; the original reality (where Lisa died at 27) will remain, and no one will remember Dora at all.
The “X” the Devil makes on Dora’s forehead mirrors the “X” of the Crossroads, and it’s a very fitting symbol because Dora really does have to choose a direction at a very important crossroads. (Also, in this story, the Devil is an agent of change, not an agent of evil.) She makes choice #1, of course, and learns that her real contribution to the music world will be as a chronicler--a worthy role that she's well-qualified for by her experience living Lisa's life.

The story is filled with cute allusions to music history. For example, the #1 hit by the Stones derided as “dance music” was “Miss You” (June 1978).

According to the legend, famous American blues singer/player/song-writer, Robert Johnson, sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the talent. Like a number of other famous musicians, he died at age 27.

Con: Lisa’s character is a little cold. Her music consumes her life to the point where we don’t really get a good feel for her as a person.

If you’re not really into music history, some of the middle scenes will drag.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07/30/18)
Inda Lauryn Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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