Short Stories by O.J. Cade

Interest: The following stories were included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Longfin’s Daughters

Published: June 2013 in Strange Horizons

Genre: fantasy

Length: ~10 pages

Setting: somewhere warm, near the ocean, pre-industrial Earth

Summary: Three sisters live together and care for the eels in the pond near their house. Each sister has a different relationship to the eels, a different role in the family, and different interests. The youngest sister has no interest in the eels until her older sisters start spending more of their time out of the house. Turns out, the two youngest sisters are actually shape-changed eels that eventually go back to the sea.

Final thoughts: I liked the writing style of describing each of the sisters actions and interests separately. Cade filled in so much of their lives with just lists of their interests. The story itself is haunting. The youngest sister tried to be different, but she ultimately was pulled back to her true self. So her true self wasn’t actually a girl just adds to the fantasy.

The Mythology of Salt

Published: November 2013 in Strange Horizons

Genre: science fiction

Length: ~10 pages

Setting: future Earth and an extrasolar planet

Summary: The story is told from the point of view of three different women. Makareta is the space pilot, heading to trade in salt on another planet with Miriama, a woman her father-in-law kept while he was alive. Edith tells the next part. She lives on the salt planet, sister to Miriama, and has just given birth to twins – a boy and a girl. According to custom, a girl baby can’t get any mother’s milk until she has tasted salt from a sacred statue in the desert. Edith heads to the statue and finds Makareta spraying saltwater on the statue to rebuild it. Makareta has been sent by Miriama to replenish the statue because Miriama is too injured to do it herself and Miriama’s daughter is too angry with her culture to be trusted to keep the traditions alive.

Final thoughts: Another story that sticks with you long after you’re done. It has a distinctly non-Western thread to the story. Makareta comes from a Maori culture (she talks about getting the moko face tattoo to keep her grounded in her memories and family). The cultural details on the unidentified planet Makareta lands on made me think of the story of Lot and his wife (turned into a pillar of salt) from the Bible. The three-part story, each from a different point of view, wove the different characters together into a stronger whole than I would have seen in a single point of view. Both stories provide women who do what has to be done without looking to others to save them from their path.

 

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