Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Transubstantiation, by Evan Dicken

★★★★★ When Heroes fall, there are still heroes.

(Fantasy Adventure) Deff and his team hunt the countryside for illegal Heroes, whom they kill and then sell the body parts. Something truly terrible happened with these “Heroes” in the recent past, and it’s not entirely done. (11,386 words; Time: 37m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 310, published on .

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

Review: 2020.417 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Deff and the others in his crew pretty much just want to kill one of the big heroes and collect a payday enough to retire on. And yet, except for young Neren, they really do want more. Those of them who fought in the Leveling Wars expected more as a result. Yes, they got rid of the dictatorship of the Heroes, but the Synod hasn’t delivered what it promised either.

Deff himself is a traditional old soldier type. He’s not really comfortable with anyone except other old soldiers, which is why he and Alinari bonded so well. I was very glad when Deff and his people didn’t kill Alinari and the rest of the censors after they drugged them. (And I was even more pleased when the story gave them an excellent tactical reason not to kill the censors.)

The deeper meaning of the story is worth thinking about. The Weeper ascended the sky to talk to the gods, only to learn that the gods had killed each other and heaven was empty. She returned to learn that, just as the gods had failed, the heroes had failed as well. Unaware of the tools men had developed to kill Heroes, she fell, unable to defend herself.

This message that people are better off without heroes is an old one, but I’ve never seen it presented quite so graphically. Not only are Heroes outlawed, they’re hunted, butchered, and sold for the healing powers of their body parts! And the problem with the Heroes was that they didn’t let the people think for themselves. The Weeper, in particular, bent people’s minds to follow her, and simply slew everyone who didn’t conform.

A government led by people might be a messy one—as evidenced by the fact that Deff and company are about to start a revolution against the Synod—but as least it’s still alive. The best the Heroes offered was the stagnation of the grave.

Con: I expected a bit more of an emotional punch at the end, but the characters who died weren’t developed well enough for me to care that much about them.

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Evan Dicken Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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