The title of that story by Brooke Bolander which I had vague memories of was Tornado’s Siren, published on the Strange Horizon website in 2012. It’s therefore been just under 6-years since I’ve read anything by Bolander. It’s not that I’ve been avoiding her work, it’s that, for the most part, I don’t pick-up the online magazines where she’s published.
My attention for the last five or so years has been focussed on novels. This is why the Tor novella range is so damn important. Like the parent who hides vegetables in a sausage roll, they package shorter fiction in a novel casing. If not for this novella it might have been who knows how The many years until I would have read a story by Bolander. That would have been an awful state of affairs because she is a remarkable writer as evidenced by The Only Harmless Great Thing. It’s not just that she brings together the electrocution of Topsy and the exploitation of the Radium Girls in such a way that you wonder why no-one has done it before; and it’s not just her ability to seamlessly transition between the perspectives of an elephant, a furious, betrayed radium girl and a guilty, frustrated researcher (90 or so years in advance of the other two points of view); no, what struck me was how Bolander was able to convey complicated, penetrating thoughts about the stories we tell ourselves and the truth we ignore in such a small space and with such elegant, evocative and passionate prose. Bolander has used alternate history not for the usual what ifs and thought experiments but to critique the way we forget and avoid and – to use her word – transmute the past into something that’s digestible, that’s doesn’t upset or offend. And she does it by forcing you – me – to remember a moment of awful animal torture and capitalist greed, events that we don’t speak about because as Kat says tragedy has a short half-life.
I could go on but Bolander, through the novella, says it far more powerfully than I ever could: elephants remember, we forget.
- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 2 hours and 1 minute
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com.au Release Date: 18 October 2019
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English, English
- ASIN: B07Z9LLHJN