The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"A Cold Dish" by Lisa Tuttle: An Appreciation by Melanie Fazi

Quiet horror would be a way to describe this story, and Lisa Tuttle's writings in general. In this tale of unusual revenge, horror never lies in what is described, but in what is hinted, what the reader is led to guess before it happens. The tension lies in the tiniest details. The first sentence grabs you immediately and then it's too late, you're caught in the web.

This is about ordinary people and simple themes anyone can relate to. Pregnancy. Punishment. Revenge. With just a hint of Greek tragedy. The unnamed narrator could be any woman, any of the female readers of this story. The only thing that strays a little from our reality is this concept of "sentence pregnancy". What a creepy idea. A woman carrying other people's baby, seeking revenge, haunted by echoes from an old myth . . . . This is as simple as it's disturbing.

And the voice that tells the story remains so quiet the whole time. This particular detail makes the tale even more chilling. Especially during that confrontation scene between the narrator and Judge Arnold Jason towards the end. How can it be that you should identify with this woman and yet feel disturbed by her, share her feelings and yet dread what she might be able to do? Might be, that's the key. The most scary aspect of the story is that you never know what will happen--what could happen.

And what does happen, of course, is not what you expected. Somehow, you almost saw it coming. But still, you wonder until the end. What if...?

Link to story.


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