Review: “Horses” by Livia Llewellyn

2 of 5 stars.

Appearing in After the End: Recent Apocalypses edited by Paula Guran, this short story takes us on a psychological roller coaster. Angela Kingston, who has only recently discovered that she is pregnant, is part of a small team tasked with deploying one of many nuclear missiles getting launched in a world-wide war. Mutual destruction is ensured and a radiation apocalypse begins.

Written as a psychological mind trip, Kingston struggles very quickly with whether to abort the pregnancy or not, take her own life also or not, or strive to survive in a rumored underground bunker possibly keeping the child, too. Much of what happens on the day of the nuclear apocalypse is a disturbing pleasure to read. The accounts largely feel realistic, though at times confusing and of confused motivation. Then, a very large period of time elapses without explanation. That jump effectively severed my connection to the story that I was enjoying.

There had been other drawbacks: the inexplicable sub-headings, the heavy-handed metaphors linking the pregnancy to the nuclear weapon. [“[The missile] powers up, gathering every single bit of energy into herself, readying for birth.” “Above, the great doors are sliding open, spreading apart like a woman’s willing legs.”] The time jump was too much for me as I no longer believed the main character nor anything written after that point.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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