Thursday, January 17, 2019

Work Shadow/Shadow Work, by Madeline Ashby

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Modern Fantasy) In her old age, Sigrid doesn’t do as much witchcraft as she used to, but she doesn’t think she really needs the robot assistant her daughter got to help look after her. (7,496 words; Time: 24m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+2 (Q&A)

"Work Shadow/Shadow Work," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.145 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is Sigridsson’s story more than Sigrid’s. More than anything, he wants to be the sort of companion she needs, and she needs someone with a soul. This story is really about how he got one.

As the story progresses, we get lots of info about how the robot takes care of her. It’s a bit of a surprise when we learn just how inhuman the robot actually looks. “You are the only one I know who can be both frog and scorpion.”

More surprising, we get clues that despite her bluster, Sigrid cares for the robot too. For example, she doesn’t want him to be hurt by the aurora, so she dresses him up in beads before they make their visit to the elves.

The elves observe that he needs a name and someone to love him. But Sigrid already loves him, so when she gives him a name, suddenly he acquires the ability to see the other world. That proves he has a soul, and so the story is complete.

Con: Right up to the point where the robot sees the road in the sky, we could believe that the magic was just a figment of Sigrid’s imagination, but the ending forces us to believe it’s real.

Sigrid is a hard character to like, and the robot has no agenda of its own other than taking care of Sigrid.

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