REVIEW: “Katabasis” by Petter Skult

Review of Petter Skult, “Katabasis”, in Myths, Monsters, and Mutations, edited by Jessica Augustsson (JayHenge Publications, 2017): 120-121. — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The story is a mishmash of elements from a variety of sources — Biblical references to Lazarus, contemporary SF in the form of integrated human-machines, a sprinkling of Greek gods — providing a sense of familiarity and also a sense of a much wider scope than can actually be given in a two page story. This is generally quite an effective technique to use in flash fic, in that one can omit many details knowing that the reader will be able to fill them in themselves from other stories they have read. (This is what the philosopher David Lewis calls `interfictional carryover’. Interfictional carry-over occurs when readers import knowledge of certain types of tropes into a story where those tropes are not explicitly mentioned. [1, p. 45]) But predicating a story on the assumption that readers can all fill in certain gaps is a dangerous gamble to take; for if you’ve got a reader who, like me, doesn’t know who Adrestia is, all the import of the ending is lost.

Note

[1] Lewis, David. 1978. “Truth in Fiction”, American Philosophical Quarterly 15, no. 1: 37–46.

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