Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Finna, by Nino Cipri

★★★★★ A love story, and adventure story, and a tale of finding yourself

(Multiverse Adventure) When a wormhole opens up in the furniture store where they work, teenage Ava and her non-binary ex are ordered to go in it to hunt for a missing customer. (25,710 words; Time: 1h:25m)

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"," by (edited by Carl Engle-Laird), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.128 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Any multiverse story depends heavily on having lots of interesting different worlds, and this one does not disappoint. Starting from a store that sure sounds a lot like Ikea, our heroes wander through various awful variations on the store, some more deadly than others, before finding a world outside it.

In terms of plot, this is primarily Ava’s story, and, a the surface level, it’s about Ava going through a maskhål to find a missing customer (or an “appropriate replacement”). Beyond that, it’s about Ava forming a new relationship with Jules, whom she dumped just three days prior. But at the deepest level, it’s a coming-of-age story in which Ava stops letting other people lead her around, stops running away from conflict, and starts actively seeking a better life. The ending is deeply moving.

But Jules also has a strong plot line. They’re at the end of their rope in this world. They just lost their girlfriend (Ava). They’re an inch from being fired from LittenVärld. And they live in a world that mistreats them for being trans (non-binary) and for being black. Looking for a better world suits Jules right down to the ground. Winning Ava back is a separate goal, which Jules pursues by looking after her, saving her from the hive, and finally standing in the door like Horatius at the gate while Jules flees with Captain Uzmala.

Given the danger in the setting, there’s plenty of action and tension, but the slipstream elements provide plenty of comic relief. E.g. learning that LittenVärld has a procedure for dealing with wormholes that randomly appear.

Finally, there’s some fun in the Swedish words in the story: Finna is Swedish for “to find.” LittenVärld loosely means “Small World,” possibly comparing the weird show rooms with the Disney ride. Most of the others are explained in the text, like maskhål (wormhole).

Con: For much of the story, Ava is so passive and so hopeless that it’s irritating to read about her. Ava’s boss, Tricia, is a cardboard villain.

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