Saturday, October 22, 2011

Short Story Review: Far by Sarah Diemer

 Far is a science fiction horror dystopia zombie fantasy short story by Sarah Diemer that starts off as one thing, turns into another, and has the love between two girls as the strong guiding centre all the way through.

Why did I pick this story up? Well, after reading her novel, The Dark Wife last week, I promptly bought two of her short stories. (Sadly, the other short story I picked up, Hallow's Eve: A Halloween Fairy Tale, isn't a lesbian one, though it is a very nice short story about a nice young witch who is much better at cupcakes and has to spend Halloween fixing a love spell gone (un)deadly wrong).

Far looked like it might be a good addition to the very short list of non-vampiric lesbian horror. The first half definitely is, in a dark The Genetic Opera-style city of death and hopelessness, but it turns into something else at the end - more of a metaphorical science fiction dystopia.

 Essentially, it's a love story between Mana and Far. It opens with Far dead and Mana going to rescue her soul from the After before it is recycled - luckily Mana is one of the best Runners in the city. Unfortunately for Far, she succeeds, and her beloved is trapped in a corpse, trapped in a city she has been desperate to leave, and cheated of her death.

And then Mana disappears, or dies, while Running, and Far has to take over the story, shuffling along sadly (although not for very long) until a gargoyle comes along and tells her that there's a way out, and it's the only way to find Mana.

The main problem with Far is that it was much, much too short (not for the price, just for the reader). About half of the kindle download is actually previews and excerpts of her novels (both of which I'd read already in the other two stories from her), which is great if you hadn't read them - the beginning of The Dark Wife is about as long as the entirety of Far, so is a great way to see if you'll like the novel. It's not great if you aren't expecting it, and think that your Kindle progress bar is a good indication of how much story is left.

The story pacing was fine - though the ending was a bit sudden (partly because I thought I was only halfway through), it also made sense, as the alternative would have been one of those endless 'quest' stories, full of twists and turns and steps that the protagonist has to take, none of which really matter.

The ending also explained Mana's obsessive, slightly scary, love for Far, and how it was that Far was the only one who considered things could be different. Within the context of the city, Mana's love was quite reasonable, and outside of that setting she was much more willing to consider the wider situation and Far's wishes.

I would have liked to have seen a lot more of the city, with people who just appear, wait and die, and the few who can't leave their dead to their unknown fate, and drag them back into their corpses to live out their unlifes as zombies. It was a grim, horrifying, but richly constructed setting that would have done justice to a novel's worth of plot.

But overall, a good read, and recommended. And like her other books, has a lovely cover.

You can download Far in Kindle eBook format from amazon, for $1.99

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