Saturday, April 19, 2008

Immortal Snake by Rachel Pollack

I subscribe to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine and I'll admit that
some issues are better than others, but for me, it is the most
consistant, quality wise, of the major SF magazines. Now bear in mind
that my SF reading generally tends towards less Hard SF than many folks,
not that I don't like Hard SF.

My friend Steve knows my tastes and recently emailed me to ask if I'd
read a story in the latest issue of F&SF entitled Immortal Snake by
Rachel Pollack. From experience I know that's Steve's way of saying that
he thinks I'm going to like it. I actually hadn't started reading the
May issue, but I pride myself on reading all the fiction in each issue,
so when I decided to tackle this months issue, I read that story first.

Imagine my delight to find that this novelet, 42 pages in length, was a
wonderful fantasy story written along the manor of say, 1001 Arabian
Nights, or something from the Brothers Grimm. I guess that fairy tale
might be the best description but these days that might imply that the
story is for children, and its not.

Its the story of the current Immortal Snake, newly chosen by the
Readers, priests who divine the word of god by their study of the stars.
The Immortal Snake rules for an indefinite time until it is time for him
to "shed his skin" when the old Immortal Snake is poisoned by the
Readers and a new one is chosen. In the meantime, the Immortal Snake is
treated to constant pleasure. But the new Snake picks his sister as his
female companion, and a slave storyteller as his male companion. The
sister is not at all thrilled with his choice, as the companions are the
first to die when it is time for a new Snake to be chosen. The story of
how the sister uses the strange storytelling powers of the male
companion in an attempt to save all their lives is a wonderful tale, and
in and of itself, worth the $4.50 price tag for the magazine

Now when I review comics I can often, if not prove what I'm saying, at
least send folks somewhere to get a preview of the comic to help them
decide whether I'm right or not, but I didn't think that would be the
casr here. Well, in a way, I was wrong! As it turns out, when I went to
the Fantasy and Science Fiction website, I found another short story by
the same author, Rachel Pollack, waiting right there in the description
of this months contents. Its a much shorter story, but I think it will
at least give you the "flavor" of the Ms. Pollack's fantasy stylings.
You can find that shorter story, The Fool, the Stick, and the Princess

And if you like it, you can probably find the May issue of F&SF at your
local Borders, Barnes and Noble, or possibly your favorite news agency,
or if you're so inclined, you can download a digital version of the mag
from eReader or Fictionwise which are linked on that same page. Or, if
you trust my recommendation I'm sure there's a link to subscribe to the
print version of the magazine. But if nothing else, at least go and
check out the free story so you can judge for yourselves.


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