Tuesday, September 4, 2018

No Flight Without the Shatter, by Brooke Bolander

★★★☆☆ Average

(Allegory) The last living human being lives with her aunts, who are all incarnations of the last survivors of various extinct species. (8,509 words; Time: 28m)

"," by (edited by Marco Palmieri), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.445 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This allegory about the end of the world has an unexpectedly hopeful theme.
Hatching is not the end of what lies inside the egg, only the end of the shell around it. There’s no flight without the shatter, and no flock without the flight.
The end of the world is revealed as just the beginning of a new adventure for the animals and for humanity too, although they're embarking on different adventures this time.

It's a tale very much in the tradition of folk tales about animal brides, in which animals shed their skins temporarily and take human form.

The story rewards the educated reader with a host of amusing allusions. Just to list a few:

  • Linnea is probably named after the Linnean system of naming plants and animals (e.g. homo sapiens is humanity’s Linnean name.) The various extinct animals in the story are all introduced by their Linnean names.
  • Thylacinus was a real family of animals, including the Tasmanian Wolf, which went extinct in 1936, when the last known survivor died in captivity, as depicted in the story. It was a male, however, named Benjamin, but that wouldn't fit the animal-brides theme.
  • Blaschko’s Lines are a real phenomenon. People really do have (usually) invisible stripes.
  • The account of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, seems to be pretty accurate too.

Con: It depicts a future that’s far more grim than anything science currently postulates.

Why do the animals take a rocket ship into space? That just seems incongruous. Why do the animals just get one representative per species, but the souls of all of humanity appear to join Linnea on the airship.

The story appears to carry the message that the extinction of all those species was a terrible thing, but I'm not sure very many people would disagree with that message today.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 08/15/18)
Brooke Bolander Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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