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Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Resurrection Points" by Usman T. Malik

Appeared in Strange Horizons, which is doing their annual fundraiser.
This is a solid performance by newcomer Usman T. Malik. The imagisitically stimulating story relates how Baba leads Daoud and through his ability to animate a murdered young man through resurrection points. Slowly, Daoud develops his ability to animate a dead chicken, a cat, and a human who seems to shrug on his own. Meanwhile, some community Muslims don't want to bury the dead boy in the graveyard because he was Christian. Baba pushes against them, but the Muslims overreact, torching a small village, killing many Christians.

Spoilers & Commentary:
His mother has been hiding her Christianity. The local Muslims found her birth name and used it to get back at Baba, and Daoud discovers he had family in the village. Even Baba has passed away. So Daoud raises the entire village of dead people.

The tale itself is compelling and sure to satisfy. Malik has developed Daoud into a Christ figure. Daoud paraphrases certain sentences, raises the dead, and bleeds from the palms. Presumably, he will drive the dead in to give these local Muslims a reckoning for their behavior, but it's not clear how long or strong these zombies will last. It's a great final image but hard to imagine what it will accomplish except to show discontent and cast Daoud in an evil light among the Muslims (perhaps a sequel is forthcoming). The tale seems to reveal discontent with violent answers to religious disagreement.

Although much of the tale is outside Daoud, it is solidly told. Likely, Usman T. Malik will be a writer to watch. A discussion of his other story, "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family", can be found here. Both stories admirably treat the problematic issue of violence within a culture.

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