REVIEW: “The Man in the Crimson Coat” by Andrea Tang

Review of Andrea Tang, “The Man in the Crimson Coat”, Apex Magazine 100 (2017): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

The story opens in a bar, where a woman named Jo watches a piano man with a shiny cybernetic hand, so we know right away that we’re reading some sci-fi noir. That could go in the direction of parody, but instead takes itself just seriously enough to tell a great story. The world is both futuristic and retro, but never campy. It suggests that even in a future with advanced technology, society will still need seedy bars and cheap motels. People will still be people. It’s an appropriate mood for a story about the importance of human connection.

The narrative interweaves a present-day adventure with back story that eventually makes a seamless whole. I found the flashbacks hard to get into at first, but they eventually yield some of the most touching material, particularly on a second reading. They’re not extra, but necessary to the plot, and I admire the way Tang structures them, concealing and revealing in just the right amounts.

The ending is perfect – both surprising and inevitable – and illuminated the whole story that preceded it.

Published by

Joanna Z. Weston

Joanna Z. Weston is a fantasy writer, living in Boston, MA. Her work has been published in Enchanted Conversation Magazine, Luna Luna, and Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse. She also reviews novellas for the Luna Station Quarterly blog. She is a member of Broad Universe, an organization that supports and promotes women and other marginalized genders who write speculative fiction.

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