Tag Archives: magical realism

After Dark by Haruki Marakami

I found this in the new book stack at the library, back when it came out. I recognized the author’s name and picked up the book.

Translator: Jay Rubin

Published: 2004 for the original, 2007 for the translation

Genre: fiction

Length: 191 pages

Setting: Tokyo in the 2000s Continue reading


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Collateral Memory by Sabrina Vourvoulias

This is the next story included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology.

Published: June, 2013 in Strange Horizons (you can also listen to the story from their podcast)

Genre: magical realism

Setting: mostly Guatemala, 1980s

Summary: The narrator recounts a childhood game where the girls (and some boys) would hide in a shed and another group of boys would find them and drag them outside, fighting the whole time, where they were disappeared. The girls would win if the boys didn’t find them all, but the only time they won was when the narrator used magic to hide one of the boys. It seems the kids were re-enacting scenes from when soldiers would enter their houses and grab anyone they wanted.

Final thoughts: the story felt like it was supposed to be portentous and meaningful, but I just didn’t get it. Maybe because I grew up safe and didn’t have to worry about soldiers breaking into my house in the middle of the night and raping or killing a family member or myself. The children’s game reflected the life they were living, with some variation if you were a native Guatemalan or an American missionary or soldier’s kid. There was also a bit of magic thrown in because the narrator was able to pull darkness in around herself or others, but that was a tiny part of the story.

Title comes from: It came from the last lines of the story. “Call it a game. Call it collateral memory. Call it real.”


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Short Stories by A.G. Carpenter

Interest: They were two of the stories included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology


Published: 2012 in Daily Science Fiction

Genre: speculative fiction

Length: about 8 pages

Setting: some time in the future, a generic city on Earth

Summary: The narrator is a Preservationist. He’s a field agent, which means he’s tasked with taking out targets (usually either causing an accident or making sure an accident isn’t avoided) in order to keep Earth on target to a better, brighter future. He’s also fed information by The System that enables him to see the multiple paths of the future. One day, stressed out by insomnia and unable to stop working, he decides not to follow the directions to kill someone and saves her instead. That might not have been the best choice.

Final thoughts: Just goes to show that a lack of sleep leads to poor judgement. Of course, for most of us, poor judgement doesn’t lead to the end of the world. I could see how the stress of constantly seeing the future and sifting out the best choice would lead to insomnia and temporary insanity. I did find the end of the world a bit sudden, mainly because we never have any idea of what the Preservationists are trying to work against.

Title comes from: The narrator had horrible insomnia caused by his job that led to his bad decision

In the Cool of the Day

Published: 2013 in Abyss & Apex

Genre: magical realism

Length: about 20 pages

Setting: the South, sometime in the 1960s (probably)

Summary: Miriam has been living with her Gran ever since her Gran found her in the orphanage. Unfortunately, it seems that Gran isn’t going to live much longer. Two of her daughters (not Miriam’s mother) show up at the house to be with her when she passes, and to take all the items of any value from the house. Miriam is treated like dirt because she’s a bastard, but she’s willing to turn the other cheek for her grandmother’s sake. She’s just worried what will happen when Gran dies. Gran takes care of her, though, calling down a storm as she dies to destroy the house and all the items in it (except the people) and showing Miriam the love she can find in the neighbor boy, Bobby.

Final thoughts: I loved the touch of magic in this story. Gran had it in spades, even though she was dying, and Miriam was learning to use it. Neither of the daughters who showed up seemed to have any hint of magic, or even realize what Gran could do (or perhaps they wouldn’t have tried to deceive her the way they did). The spite they showed to Miriam was displayed beautifully and you felt the loss Miriam was feeling as Gran was dying, leaving her with nothing. She did get a legacy from her grandmother to keep her safe, though, and the story ends hopefully.

Title comes from: It refers to the work Miriam would do in the garden in the cool of the day.

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