“sand, crushed shells, chicken feathers”, reviewed

The Portal recently reviewed the January to February stories published on the World SF blog, and gave a favorable review to “Sand, Crushed Shells, Chicken Feathers“.

The World SF Blog, run by Lavie Tidhar and Charles Tan, was set up in 2009 to carry news and features on science fiction from the world over. For the last few months, the blog has also been publishing fiction (mostly reprints); this is a look at the stories posted in the first two months of 2011, and it is quite a mixed bag. Nick Wood tells a fine tale of a man whose relationship is becoming as dried out as the land. Pyotr Kowalczyk contributes an amusing portrait of a ramshackle trip into space. Michael Haulica’s story of a gastronomic experiment gone wrong is let down by its translation. Ekaterina Sedia’s piece evokes a keen sense of loss as the supernatural meets the real world. Eliza Victoria brings magic into the real world in a different way, magic that’s enigmatic to her readers and characters alike. Stephen Kotowych poses some intriguing questions about time, in a story that doesn’t quite succeed as a whole. And Charlie Human chills with his brief depiction of a new way to fight a battle.

Eliza Victoria’s story “Sand, Crushed Shells, Chicken Feathers” (2010; first published in the Philippine Free Press) concerns two college roommates: John, a firm believer in the supernatural; and Zachary, who is much more skeptical, despite all his grandmother’s tales of magic. Zachary may have cause to question his assumptions, though, when he comes home one day to find John in tears, with the strange voice of an apparently lost girl on the other end of his phone. John was trying to find the spirit of his dead sister, Emma, and instead found two strangers. What really makes this tale work is that Victoria incorporates the supernatural in such a way that it becomes both down-to-earth and mysterious; the magic feels as though it belongs to the contemporary world (with, for example, its use of modern technology), yet one’s sense of exactly how it works and what it does remains murky. The combined effect is nicely unsettling.

The Portal also likedParallel“.

Click on the links if you want to read the reviews and/or stories. :)

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