Short Story Review: “Falcon-and-Sparrows” by Yoon Ha Lee

2 of 5 stars.

The rites of culture and religion threaten to pass into hollow routine unless meaningfulness is re-upped.

In this subtle tale, the narrator is born of two people from opposite sides of a civil war. Her outsider status helps her to see through the cultural trappings of her hometown. A childhood game of “Falcons-and-Sparrows” [ie “Tag” mixed with “Blind Man’s Bluff”] serves as a metaphor for what she experiences around her. In the game, a blindfolded falcon tries to find the sparrows eluding him.

The narrator heads to the local shrine and queues up for the scribes as per routine. The scribes chronicle the prayers of the devotees, each on its own piece of paper which is then folded [into a sparrow] and released. But she notices that the scribes aren’t actually writing anything down or listening to the prayers. The papers already have writings and drawings on them . . .

This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Combustion Hour” and “Wine”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


Short Story Review: “Dancy vs. the Pterosaur” by Caitlin R. Kiernan

3 of 5 stars.

The skirmish between religion and science rears from time to time and place to place with little accomplished nor acceded. Often, the dialogue between the two sides is really two dialogues, one held by each side without a truly common language or lens building understanding. This tale re-enacts that dance as two young girls from different mindsets attempt to understand the incomprehensible.

Dancy has been following the path of her angel further away from her family and into unknown parts. But her angel doesn’t stick around, so Dancy finds herself on a rural road in Alabama with seemingly a dragon flying overhead. Jezzie appears and leads Dancy to the safety of her secret studying lair where she examines reptiles and reads books on evolution and Earth science. Dancy doesn’t trust a girl named, Jezebel, after a harlot idolater.

Dancy mistrusts evolutionary science as it contradicts the Bible of Genesis. Jezzie distrusts the dismissal of science by religionists. And then there’s the dragon . . . Jezzie points out the dragon is really a pterosaur but she cannot scientifically explain what it’s doing in Alabama 70 million years after it went extinct . . .

This tale appears in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 10 edited by Jonathan Strahan. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. I’ve previously read Kiernan’s:
     “The Bone’s Prayer”–3 stars
     “Bridle”–4 stars
     “The Cats of River Street (1925)”–5 stars
     “The Mermaid of the Concrete Ocean”–4 stars
     “The Transition of Elizabeth Haskings”–5 stars
[Check out my other reviews here.]