“parallel”, reviewed

David Hebblethwaite of The Portal reviewed the November issue of Expanded Horizons, which carried my story, “Parallel”.

He had lovely things to say about the issue and my story.

Expanded Horizons (“speculative fiction for the rest of us”) is a webzine that aims to represent and foster greater diversity in the sf field. The six stories in its November issue certainly achieve that, as well as showcasing a range of approaches and styles. Malon Edwards brings a touch of magic to his short tale of a college football star. Zen Cho tells of a “smell magician” who takes a stray cat home—even though she doesn’t like cats. Eliza Victoria contributes a poignant and very human take on the notion of parallel universes. Silvia Moreno-Garcia shows how humans can be just as mysterious as we might expect aliens to be. Omar Zakaria’s tale of fantasy adventure takes a serious turn and ends up interrogating itself. And perhaps best of all is Csilla Kleinheincz’s tale of two lovers driven apart by magic that may or may not be real. Rounding out the issue is “The Key Keeper,” an excellent piece of artwork by James Ng.

“Parallel” by Eliza Victoria (originally published last year in the fourth volume of Philippine Speculative Fiction) announces its parallel-universe theme brilliantly, as Christopher’s friend Ben draws up in a car he stole from himself (“’He didn’t see me,’ Ben insisted. ‘And besides, I left a note. Wormholes do work! High five Einstein!’”). But what might at first seem as though it’s going to be a romp  proves to be rather more serious, as it becomes clear why these two have visited a parallel universe: Christopher’s younger sister Olivia died in a road accident in his world; he’s there to find another version of her, and take her back through the wormhole with him. Strikingly, the technology for travelling between universes is barely examined; the focus here is firmly on character and emotion, and Victoria explores those wonderfully. The universe to which Ben and Christopher have travelled isn’t quite of the kind they anticipated, and it leads Christopher to ask himself some tough ethical questions. And the poignancy of the ending lifts the story to another level.

About The Portal:

The Portal is a free, volunteer-run, online review of short-form science fiction, fantasy, and horror from around the world. We review work in English and also provide English-language coverage of short fiction markets, anthologies, and genre literary activities in many language communities.

We concentrate on short-form fiction for several reasons.  First of all, short fiction is a prime place for new writers to develop their artistry and discipline. It’s also a source of development for editors and publishers, who can learn to work with authors, build their business skills, and make a reputation. Finally, the abbreviated length of short fiction makes it conducive to translation.

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