Friday, October 11, 2019

Spider, by Sérgio Motta

[Strange Horizons]
Not Rated No Speculative Element

(Mainstream) A poor child in São Paolo meets an old man with eight eyes who tells amazing stories. (3,768 words; Time: 12m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 09/30/19, published on .

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

Review: 2019.569 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a very touching story.

Con: Except for the description of the man having eight eyes, there’s no speculative element in the story at all, and since only Heitor can see those extra eyes (and they play no role in the story at all), it’s easier to interpret them as jewelry or clothing or something mundane.

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I think the spider eyes are purely metaphorical but the ending manages to keep the ambiguity as the sixteen eyes can be read as either belonging to Aranha and Heitor, and thus Heitor becoming a spider as well; or to Aranha, Heitor, his mother and his two sisters, no transformation needed.

  2. One more thing, from Wikipedia:


    Anansi (/əˈnɑːnsi/ ə-NAHN-see) is an Akan folktale character. He often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the god of all knowledge of stories. Taking the role of trickster, he is also one of the most important characters of West African, African American and Caribbean folklore.

    Anansi tales are some of the best-known amongst the people of Ghana, the place of their origin, as Anansi's name comes from the word in the Akan language for "spider".[1] They later spread to West Indies, Suriname, Sierra Leone (where they were introduced by Jamaican Maroons) and the Netherlands Antilles; also Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire.


    Abena is from Ghana and calls the man Ananse, a variation of Anansi. Aranha is, of course, spider in Portuguese. So while the supernatural doesn't really play much of a role in the story it seams clearly based on a supernatural character.

  3. This isn't like the Anansi stories I've read, though. Among other things, Anansi usually has a bigger role and ends up doing something at least mildly supernatural.

    In the context of the story, I think you could almost interpret the eyes as being tattoos. Not that I think they're really meant to be tattoos; just that they have so little influence on the story.

    I think this really is a mainstream story that makes clever allusions to the Anansi stories, but it's not genre because it doesn't have any actual speculative content.