Monday, March 30, 2020

Truth as a Prize, by R.Z. Held

★★★★☆ Plenty of Excitement and Surprises

(Mixed Genre) Naomi has been trapped ever since she lost her contest with the Game a long time ago, but a new player has come, and she hopes maybe this will be the one to defeat it. (6,490 words; Time: 21m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 299, published on .

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

Review: 2020.160 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: This is a rare mixed-genre story that actually seems to work. The world is clearly high-fantasy, but the Game is clearly run by computer software. One of the pleasures of this story is the way we gradually learn more about how the Game works and what sort of powers Naomi and Dianthus have to work with. It does a nice job of raising our hopes only to surprise us. Dianthus’s final plan makes complete sense, but it still takes us by surprise.

There may be some larger message here, but I don’t quite see it. E.g. could the Game represent the lives of ordinary people, who work hard but usually don’t win?

Con: We really don’t learn anything about Naomi other than her life in the game, which makes it hard to bond with her. If she’s been in there so long that the language outside has changed, how come shoe and Dianthus could communicate so well? And if no one ever wins, why do people keep coming to play the Game?

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R.Z. Held Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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3 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was really good and very clever!

    Naomi explains that she and Dianthus could communicate because "ghosts are beyond language." Once she's physically back, she can't understand anymore. People keep coming because no one knows the truth about no one winning. Some who never played credit the Game as the source of stolen riches. And there are other rumors since no one has come back to report what really happens.

  2. I agree with the rating and the review, and also Laura's comments. It is a story that explains itself as you read it.

    Well worth reading for award consideration

  3. Just to clarify, I agree with RSR's Pro section of their review and I agree with Laura about the Con section of RSR's review.