Thursday, September 12, 2019

Under the Hill, by Maureen F. McHugh

[F&SF]
★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Campus Fantasy) A young woman describes her college experiences, starting with the fact that her school adjoined a Fae community, so student interactions with Faerie were a constant issue. (5,095 words; Time: 16m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘RHorton.r+1 πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)


"Under the Hill," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 09-10|19, published on by .

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

Review: 2019.517 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best thing about this is the slipstream humor. E.g. artifacts from Faerie are for sale in the campus bookstore. Or the Fair Folk dude in her class who says America was very different from Europe during the Gilded Age (1870-1900) and “it sounds as if he is speaking from experience.”

The ending is not exactly predictable but it’s not unexpected. Ameila doesn’t enjoy life in our world, and even though “Matthew Goodman” warns her that “this is not wise,” she wants to go to the Fae world. Making wise decisions wasn’t her forte anyway.

Still, the ending is chilling: when she gives Matthew her full name, she gives herself to him. She’s his property now, as signaled by his statement, “I will call you Cat.”

More optimistically, it could just be a metaphor for deciding to dedicate your life to writing speculative fiction.

Con: Amelia is self-destructive enough that she’s not a lot of fun to read about. Abandoning our world to get out of $42,000 of student debt is a bit over-the-top. Likewise doing so to avoid having to decide what you want to do with your life.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I'd give this one a four, because it's so well done. It's also one of the few stories I've read that gets academia right: Amelia is clearly a very intelligent person, and yet she spends most of her time depressed and beating herself up for being stupid.

    I also had a slightly different (or rather, additional) interpretation on the ending than you did: while it's clear that Amelia is making a mistake, I thought Matthew's "I will call you Cat" statement was intended to signal that he knows her better than anyone else.

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    1. I'll reconsider this one. I was on the border about whether to give it 4 or not, and it all hinges on how you interpreted the ending.

      I still like the idea of the story being a metaphor for devoting your life to writing fantasy though. :-)

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