Killing with the Edge of the Moon
A. A. Attanasio
Fiction 160 pages
Prime Books. 2006
Would you go all the way to Hell just to get a date? Chet does, but not entirely willingly. He makes the trip partly due to a very convincing witch, but also because he has a crush on Flannery.
Long ago, Orpheus made a similar trip. However, when he tried it, things didn’t work out so well. Of course, the Otherworld isn’t exactly Hell, and Flannery, unlike Orpheus’s wife, Eurydice, isn’t exactly dead. But, the situation is similar, and if Chet isn’t able to work the Fetch, Flannery will be both dead and dragon food.
While Flannery dances with fairies in the Otherworld, her body lies in a hospital bed connected to life support equipment. For Flannery, the Otherworld is far more joyful than the one she has known all her life. But Arden, the fairy prince, hasn’t told her everything, and Flannery doesn’t know how much danger she’s in. Even if her witch grandmother, Nedra, is able to convince Chet to work the Fetch, Flannery and Chet will face great danger before their story is done.
The Orpheus myth is a prime example of what Joseph Campbell calls the hero’s journey. Chet’s hero journey is faithful to the mythic archetype, yet modern and unpredictable. Filled with reversals and surprises, Attanasio’s story pits the uncertainty of contemporary adolescence against the ageless themes of Celtic myth.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Demons Hide Their Faces
A. A. Attanasio
Fiction 183 pages (Kindle)
This collection of short fiction for Kindle contains seven stories which appeared in print in “Twice Dead Things”. As a shorter collection, “Demon’s Hide their Faces” provides a good introduction to A. A. Attanasio for those not yet familiar with his writing.
In general, Attanasio writes science fiction and fantasy — but not always — and both can be found in this volume. Two of the stories, however, don’t strictly meet my criteria for either genre. I consider “Death’s Head Moon”, like Attanasio’s novel, “Kingdom of the Grail”, to be historical fiction, albeit tinged with the fantastic and mythical. Attanasio’s character, Richard Malone, is plunged into ancient Irish myth while fighting alongside Seamus Doyle during the First World War. When the war ends, he carries his ghosts and a volume of Nietzsche, through a rough and tumble life until a hobo translates a few words of the book he carries.
Malone’s life takes several more turns and he ends up in Hawaii. Here too, he encounters the mythical, only now it wears new masks. What begins as a war story ends as a detective story and in a surprise. There is no escaping the Death’s Head Moon.
My favorite story, “Ink from the New Moon,” takes place in an alternate history in which Chinese, rather than Europeans, were the first to settle the U.S.A. In this alternate history, Attanasio is able to bring a westerner’s interpretation to Buddhist concepts while preserving the story’s Chinese sensibility. This melancholy story of love and loss opens the collection and primes the reader for the stories that follow — stories that engage both emotionally and philosophically.