Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Malinche, by Gabriela Santiago


(Meso-American Alternate History Fantasy) Cortez invades a Mexico that has electricity, and he gets help from an unhappy slave girl. (6,888 words; Time: 22m)

"," by (edited by Neil Clarke), appeared in issue 156, published on .

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

Review: 2019.506 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: La Malinche is a real historical figure from the conquest of Mexico, and she’s still controversial in Mexico today. In the story, she learns Spanish after meeting Cortez, but in the real world she already spoke Spanish and several other native languages by the time she met him. As in the story, she was Cortez’s lover and bore his child.

Of course the big difference in the story is the way the Aztecs (aka the Mexicas) were able to use their human sacrifices to generate electricity. And, beyond that, to animate steampunk-like robots made from clay. This doesn’t help them much, since Malinche builds them for the Conquistadors, and, as in our world, they take advantage of Montezuma’s naivete to steal his empire from him.

The twist at the end, where she betrays Cortez as well and takes control of Mexico for herself is a bit of a surprise, but consistent with the (somewhat controversial) tradition of her as a betrayer.

Con: The Conquistadors were bad guys, but the Aztecs were even worse. If Malinche plans to rule as before (which it seems she does), then it’s hard to see this as a good outcome. That leaves the story with no heroes at all.

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