Gordon Van Gelder
|Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 07:02 am: |
I can't find the thread for the Oct/Nov 2006 issue, so here's a new thread just for this story.
The story got a long review this week from Matthew Cheney (now a Hoboken denizen): http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/20070813/cheney-c.shtml
And the story itself is available on our Website for another few weeks, until the Hugos are awarded: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/fiction/hugo07.htm
Craig L. Gidney
|Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 07:12 am: |
I disagreed with Matt's essay, in that I enjoyed the discomfort that the real history had an effect on the 'fantasy' elements. The story serves as a dialog with history, that that's its strength.
|Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 - 09:51 am: |
From Cheney's essay:
"The presentation of horrible events in fiction as a way of creating immediate sympathy for characters is something I am strongly biased against as a reader, because unless we are coldhearted monsters we can't help but feel something. This is an excellent and noble attribute in life, an attribute that lets us care for and learn about each other, but it is less valuable in reading stories, because such feeling is shallow, fleeting, and too often leads us to ignore other elements of the text in favor of a pleasant, self-congratulatory feeling of pity."
This specific point (as a general observation) I agree with (well, maybe not the words "shallow" and "fleeting"), but primarily this last part:
"too often leads us to _ignore other elements of the text_ in favor of a pleasant,
self-congratulatory feeling of pity." Emphasis mine.
I leave it to others to comment on other points made in Cheney's essay, but this point struck me as partciularly noteworthy from my own perspective.
|Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 - 02:17 pm: |
"My discomfort results from a story that leaves me with feelings I consider unwarranted for the reality from which the fantasy was spawned."
I suspect the author knew from the start that he was taking serious risks with his mode of presentation and his choices of character and backstory. If a reader were to focus only on the narrative line, those choices might seem to add up to a shallow exploitation of actual events that warrant only moral outrage and solemn contemplation.
Exploitation isn't what we have here. I interpreted my own feelings at the end of the tale as a moment of catharsis--no less valid for the fact that it wasn't wrung out of me by way of a guided tour of Pol Pot's reign of insanity and terror. Considering the pain of the actual events, such relief is probably the best we can hope for. Sometimes fantasy helps where logic fails. I respect Ryman for taking the risks.
|Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 - 02:09 pm: |
I think "Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (Fantasy)" is one of the best stories in FSF in recent years, and greatly enjoyed reading it. I have photocopied it and sent it to several friends and family members, just as I have done with many other stories from this publication over the years. Please keep 'em coming!