Moriabe’s Children • 2014 • Paolo Bacigalupi

★★★★★

Meta: This weird short story appeared 2014 in the Monstrous Affections anthology.

Synopsis:

Alanie had never seen a kraken, but she remembered the first time she heard their song.

Teenager Alanie lost her father to the sea, her mother remarries a landowner. She realizes that she is the prey of her abusive stepfather. She finds support in the mysterious kraken haunting the nearby sea and in her stepbrother.

Review:  Until now, I only knew near future SF from Bacigalupi, e.g. his novel Windup Girl or his anthology Pump Six. This weird ode opens the horizon featuring several monsters – first there is the Moriabi kraken. But the story continues to a different, much darker and far more relevant topic – the monster now isn’t Bacigalupi’s usual environmental desaster but child abuse. One needs to be able to stomach that topic. The emotional density doesn’t come alone from this dark side, but also from the light side – the beautiful, poetic setting fo the sea-side and the weird communication with the krakens.

I loved the contrast of krakens hunting the sea and the stepfather hunting deer. Both come together in the treatment of parents and children. Wonderful characterizations of the main protagonist, her mother, stepfather, and stepbrother. Experimental narrative structure nearly without dialogues. It is structured like a poem, each verse introduced by „Alanie had never seen a kraken, but…“ leading to a rhythmic feeling. Perfect tension arc, short exposition, slowly building up to a climax followed by a twist after the retardation.

A perfect, relevant, dense, emotional, poetic story which I highly recommend.

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