Saturday, August 3, 2019

Onyx Woods and the Grains of Deception, by D.A. Xiaolin Spires


(High Fantasy) As Staira helps chop down the ancient onyx trees to make room for fields of grain, she wonders whether this change is really for the better. (5,448 words; Time: 18m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 155, published on .

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

Review: 2019.435 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is about how Staira gradually realizes what an awful thing they’re doing and how she decides to organize people to fight back.

Con: We never get a clue who the Contempoists are or what their real motivations are or why the king listens to them. The idea that they killed Staira’s parents just to avoid paying them for their idea about breeding the giant chickens seemed pretty far-fetched. And the ending leaves me with zero confidence that Staira will actually end up making a difference.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. What about the bad (statistical) science? Exactly 100 ax strokes to fell a tree? Always? The lack of variation among the trees could probably be explained within the context of the story, but lack of variation in stroke strength? We know the characters do get tired...

    1. I wondered if that was supposed to have some sort of symbolic meaning, but, yeah, that was pretty silly if you take it literally.

      I often wonder why authors put things like that into their stories. Things that just make no sense if you think about them, things that pop a thinking reader out of the story but which end up having zero importance to the plot.