Friday, October 18, 2019

Sisyphus in Elysium, by Jeffrey Ford

★★★★☆ A Moving Story of Redemption

(Greek Myth Pastiche) In which we learn what happened to Sisyphus once he quit having to push that big rock all the time. (4,098 words; Time: 13m)

"Sisyphus in Elysium," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2019.554 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Sisyphus was a schemer and a murderer condemned to forever attempt roll a boulder up a hill only to have it always roll back down just shy of the top. In this story, Sisyphus actually gets it up the hill, but it always rolls down the other side where there’s another hill. He’s been at this for centuries when a thunderbolt destroys the boulder and frees him. But frees him to do what?

He finds Elysium, the Greek paradise, but that’s not really enough for him because he misses his wife. He can conjure up a semblance of her, based on his memories, but ultimately that’s not satisfying; he wants to find the real Merope.

When Cronus tries to remove her memory from his mind, he fights it. It makes sense that you can’t stay in paradise if you’re miserable, but he clings to her memory, even when Cronus tells him he remembers her wrong: she didn’t look that way, and she despised him anyway.

And yet, after the fight, he finds her after all. He’s sentenced to obliteration, and she’s the one who guides spirits to their destruction. They only get a little time together, but it’s enough. After all the empty ages, he’s finally complete, and he goes to his final rest content.

Con: The vast spans of time in the story make Sisyphus a little hard to relate to. Also, he’s essentially a stalker.

He’s the only developed character in the story, and he’s the only one with any plot goals.

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