Monday, 4 October 2010

The Red Bride by Samantha Henderson

This week's short story club at Torque Control is The Red Bride by Samantha Henderson. This has previously featured here as part of Short Fiction Wednesday, but it's great to read this again and think about it all once more.

On rereading, I really admire the skill of how the story is told through what's left out. It all unfolds in the spaces left between the narrative - all the while we're hearing this folky-tinged thing there's a terrible slave uprising going on, with rage and violent death and all sorts. It's done with a great deal of skill. However, there's something else there, again, that I didn't see first time around, a story of how we can rise above violence.

A more conventional shape for this story might be:  description of human plantation (I was use the word deliberately!); Sencha, the narrator's child/descendant/var equivalent thereof is killed and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the oppressed var; the oppressed var invoke the Red Bride (or maybe she's just due to arrive anyway? that's a little ambiguous); there is general rejoicing among the Var that the humans are going to suffer.

But the narrator has learned better. Having experienced grief and violence, the narrator refuses to give in to it. The narrator realises that violence just begets more violence, and mercy and forgiveness are going to important in rebuilding a world where the and humans var can live in peace, as they are going to have to do at some stage.

Again, I really like the way this is nestled within the narrator's story telling. We start off thinking we're hearing one sort of story – the myth of the Red Bride – then think we're going to hear another story – a slave uprising – but in fact we have a third, different sort of story. Of course, it's ALL those stories in one, as well as the more anthroplogical (xenolical, I guess) kind of a thing I talked about in my SFW post. All in all, this one is a pretty sweet piece!

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