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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Carousel" by Orson Scott Card

First appeared in 21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology. Reprinted by Dave Wolverton.

Card introduces this story as what most fits a WotF story:

  1. Complete in itself (not part of a series)
  2. Have emotional impact
  3. Clear resolution
  4. Idea intriguing enough that people want to talk about it
  5. Story must be mailed.
Cyril doesn't get along with his wife, Alice, who is dead.  She's a lot more blunt, willing to talk about sex with her husband to her kids--going so far to say how it's helped or hurt them.  Alice encourages the kids to live on the edge because, after all, death's been pretty good to her.  When the kids pass away, their banter is even harsher than his wife's.

Cyril finds a carousel.  There he meets Dorcas, the dead woman who runs the carousel.  And God.  He's tried to make people happy by setting up the resurrection, but of course the people complain.  The best lines:
Cyril said[,] "I want my wife to love me."
"I can't make people love other people," said God. "Then it wouldn't be love." 
"You really have a limited skill set."
[Spoiler] Cyril's given a new child.  It's not about moving somewhere but about the ride.

Not only a novel use of the zombie trope, but also a cleverly developed speculative idea to show that people in a place may not understand the harm it may cause another.

Does it align with Card's thought of what a WotF story should be?
  1. The story is complete--not necessarily an easy one.
  2. It hits in the hardest way: family lost.
  3. It resolves with the idea of why life is worth living.  
  4. Loved ones come back, even after death.  While not gruesome, it's not especially lovely.
  5. It's published.
It's a little dialogue-heavy, but witty banter helps.  I'm not sure if a new writer could get away with abandoning the zombie trope for a god one, or even introducing the big fella.  But I defer to Card's greater knowledge.

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