Monday, September 9, 2019

Invisible and Dreadful, by S.R. Mandel

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[Strange Horizons]

(SF Adventure) Studying in Japan, Carrie is having trouble starting her thesis, so her friends take her to visit the famous Japanese writer, Murasaki—even though she’s been dead 1000 years. (6,224 words; Time: 20m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 08/19/19, published on .

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

Review: 2019.497 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: I used to live in Japan, and I still speak passable Japanese, so I really enjoyed the local color in this story. Making other people comfortable is a big thing in Japanese culture, so it’s not at all a surprise when Kazu tells Carrie “Just think of me as a boy.” The fact that Japanese doesn’t really have gendered pronouns in the first place ought to make this easier, of course. (You just use the person’s name over and over, like this story does for Kazu in the early paragraphs.) However, Kazu is definitely a boy’s name, which gives it away a little bit. Anyway, it all felt very authentically Japanese to me, and I appreciated that.

As far as the story itself goes, the net effect of their visit to the hologram is that it gives Carrie permission to have a relationship with Yumi by quoting a passage from the real Murasaki’s work that suggests she had a special friendship with another girl before she came to court.

Con: There really isn’t anything else to the story. If you replaced the hologram with a visit to the library to read some of Murasaki’s work, the story would essentially be the same.

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