Thursday, November 8, 2018

Other People's Dreams, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

[F&SF]
★★★★★ Sometimes Dreams Come True

(Future Fantasy) Young Bardo and his master accept an off-world commission to make a very special custom dream for a mysterious client. (6,506 words; Time: 21m)

Recommended By: 👍RSR+2 👍STomaino+1 (Q&A)


"Other People's Dreams," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 11-12|18, published on by .

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

Review: 2018.598 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Bardo is a boy’s name meaning “son of the earth,” which is very appropriate to this story.

Bardo is 23 and has been Rowan’s apprentice since he was 9. He still suffers from the trauma of losing his family when he was 4 or 5. From the name alone I infer that he’s male, although the story has hints that he might not be, and, in fact, we don’t really know that he’s human at all other than the fact the he has a smile.

Speaking of which, he gives Rowan “my happiest smile” in response to rare, unalloyed praise from her. Bardo wants Rowan’s approval more than anything else, and he’s fiercely protective of her. His contribution to the dream of Oak (together with Oak’s wandering spirit) brings the child to life.
Bardo is a good person who’s suffered a lot. He works hard, he’s loyal, and it’s a real pleasure to see him succeed.

At the end, Rowan gets the partnership he wanted, partly because Rowan doesn’t fully recover and needs his help more than ever, but also, I think, partly because Oak lifted a burden of guilt from her, and now she’s able to be more kind.

Rowan is rough and she’s critical, but she loves Bardo, even if it’s not always obvious. Alone of her apprentices, he seems to love her back, and it’s his love and care that allows her to survive her trip to the moon. That, in turn, mellows her out.

Con: The biggest hole is probably the question of why Pearl has no problems living on the moon but Rowan does.

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Nina Kiriki Hoffman Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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