Short Story Review: “Refusing the Call” by Elliotte Rusty Harold

3 of 5 stars.

Lord of the Rings was ground-breaking in its time. From its imaginative world-building to its reconfiguring of cultural mythos. While it didn’t invent The Quest, it brought an ancient trope back to the surface and in a serious way. Since then, many an adventure tale has kicked off with a wizard, a quest, a battle between all that is good and all that is evil.

This humorous vignette spoofs the sudden commonality of the fantasy adventure trope with a quick dose of reality.

“Jonathan Harris, I have come to fetch you on a quest of most urgent importance, for–”


The wizard stepped back, his ominous pronouncement momentarily interrupted.

“Excuse me,” he said in a slightly less stentorian tone. “But what do you mean by ‘No’?”

“No means no.”

. . . .

“Did I mention there’s a princess? Quite comely she is too, with hair of golden flax and a face that would launch, well, maybe not a thousand ships, but I’m sure she could manage a rowboat or two.”

“I’m gay.”

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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