Short Story Club: “The Red Bride”

The story is here. Rich Horton liked this one; from the September Locus:

Finally, at Strange Horizons in July I particularly liked “The Red Bride” by Samantha Henderson. It’s a simple story, slyly told, set on an alien planet (apparently, though the feel is deliberately fantastical) as the long-enslaved local race finally revolts, behind the title character. That’s the penumbra to the story, but the heart is in one servant, telling a human girl what’s going on, and hinting at her possibly merciful (or not!) fate.

The story also gets a positive mention (but no more than a mention) from Gardner Dozois.

Lois Tilton says:

The metafictional aspects of this tale, the issues of translation, raise it above the usual versions. I often wonder about the dissemination of story ideas, when suddenly a number of authors seem to be working with the same ideas. Another story of a slave language and slave revolution appeared only a month ago in another zine; I greatly prefer this one.

And Patrick Hudson comments:

The implied setting, sketched in with great economy and effect, reminded me a little of Gwyneth Jones’s Spirit. The Var in this story made me think of the strange creatures of Sigurt’s world, where Bibi is kidnapped and imprisoned: they seem to have a similar violent streak and there’s also the contested question of common human/alien origins.

The Var, however, have clearly been enslaved by the humans, and this is the story of a slave race revolting. It’s an apocalypse, in fact, scorching the Earth clean to allow fresh growth. The Red Bride is a kind of avenger, coming out in her race’s time of need to help them.

The story is also, and most importantly in regards to SF, a description of an alien race, with an alien culture and life cycle. Henderson infuses the servant’s narration and the uprising of the slaves with details of the way these creatures live – she’s dramatising her novum. Yes, it’s a dark tale, but without that darkness, there would be no drama here.

And, as last week, I’m scheduling this post before my holiday, so you’ll have to add your comments in the comments. (I should be nearly home at the point this goes live, though.)