Short Story Review: “Red Americans” by Cody Goodfellow

2 of 5 stars.

The drive of greed in consumerism has often been vilified, blamed for atrocities to nature and common decency alike [Think: Avatar]. A polluting American factory making crappy plastic toys with questionable safety ratings in northwestern China sets the stage for this outre tale inspired by Lovecraft. The all-female native workforce comes from a suppressed minority possibly from Mongolia or Tibet, but most likely from mythical Leng. More on Leng later . . .

Charlene “Charlie” Bledsoe is a new factory manager not happy with her reassignment to remote China, it doesn’t help that her predecessor was killed and buried on the site. Neither the Chinese Communist Party nor her company makes her job easy, and Christmas is coming. The factory makes Realive Dolls that cry and soil themselves and beg for food. They even come with a propriety food that is the only substance known that can keep them “alive”. Nevermind that the food stuff and dolls are made from possibly primordial organic slime . . .

More disturbing is the obscenely high pregnancy rate among the female factory workers despite the lack of males. Full terms occur in nine weeks, and the abandoned babies/fetuses beg for food and cry and crawl despite abandonment, abuse and even being shot. Something alien, or primordial is going on. In alignment, the cultural practices of the factory workers is older than old and itself base. Their bifurcated god[s] split and reunite, cannibalize and mate and kill in a hermaphroditic yin-yang. Meanwhile, the workers start to take on goat-like characteristics . . .

Otherness reigns in the tale which unfortunately lacks coherence. More would be more in this case as there is so very much going on.

Leng inspired another tale with certain similarities to this one in Marc Laidlaw’s “Leng”. Mycologists, those who study fungus, beat a path to Tibet to find the mythic land of Leng to find a missing party of mycologists and the fungus-infected caterpillars they had been hunting. The second batch of scientists find the first at a monastery worshiping old gods and the fungus-caterpillar entity. One of the first party is infected . . . This tale from 2010 was quite intriguing.

This tale appears in Whispers of the Abyss 2: The Horrors That Were and Shall Be edited by Kat Rocha. I received this new anthology directly from 01 Publishing through I had previously read this author’s interesting take on a post-Zombie apocalypse, “We Will Rebuild”, with its social commentary about what it means to belong to a group.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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