Monday, October 14, 2019

The Sloppy Mathematics of Half-Ghosts, by Charles Payseur

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[Strange Horizons]

(Surreal) A half-ghost gets a premonition that the Emperor has died, and his ghost ship flies off to Homeworld because whoever gets the Emperor’s ghost first gets free wishes. (5,827 words; Time: 19m)

"," by (edited by Vanessa Rose Phin), appeared in issue 10/07/19, published on .

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

Review: 2019.590 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: There are several amusing moments in this story. From the first paragraph, when we’re told the ghost ship contains the living, the dead, and a great many cats, my first thought was “just like Facebook!” Cute little bits of nonsense add amusement value throughout.

As far as the surface plot goes, it’s pretty simple: The ship fights off the Flagless Fleet, makes it to Napoleon’s corpse first, fights the Fleet again, gets to the Heart of the Universe, and everyone gets their wishes. Jourdain has an unusually selfless wish, albeit a grand one, so it’s nice it gets granted.

Beyond that, the story seems to carry a variety of messages. For example, when it talks about how “halves” have a reputation for being promiscuous, it’s clearly a reference to a popular stereotype for bisexuals. Mostly, though, it seems to be about the injustice of inequality. I think.

Con: It’s sufficiently surreal to be a difficult read. That’s compounded by the fact that it goes on for a long time. While it seems obvious there’s a message about injustice, it’s not so clear what it’s trying to say about it all. And I got tired of the cats about the time they started farting from all the milk.

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