Friday, January 10, 2020

A Pack of Tricks, by Leah Cypess

★★★★☆ Full of Twists

(Historical SF) In Renaissance Italy, where mysterious “Visitors” (who look human but behave strangely) watch the creation of great works of art, a Visitor asks a young model to learn more about the artist she poses for. (8,495 words; Time: 28m)

"A Pack of Tricks," by (edited by Sheila Williams), appeared in issue 01-02|20, published on by .

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

Review: 2020.020 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s fairly obvious from the start that the Visitors are time travelers, but it takes a while before we really understand what they’re trying to learn about the works and artists they’re observing.

Lucia’s situation is so sad, and the story makes it clear that despite her best efforts, she really has little or no hope for the future. Cornelio had seemed so nice I was really shocked when he took away the one thing she valued most: her virginity.

The Visitor came from a future so politically correct that it refused to admire works by artists whose personal lives didn’t measure up to their moral standards—a future so obsessed that they sent back time travelers to dig up dirt on artists whose histories were imperfectly known. Lucia gets a bit of revenge by revealing Cornelio as a rapist, although the presence of the second Visitor tells us that the extremely PC future itself has its critics further down the line.

Con: I’m not sure why the author used imaginary figures. Taorzi and Cornelio sound a bit like famous painters, but I can’t see exact matches.

Lucia’s revenge is bittersweet. It does her no good in her own here and now.

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Leah Cypess Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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