REVIEW: “The Boy with the Golden Scales” by Ashleigh Gauch

Review of Ashleigh Gauch, “The Boy with the Golden Scales”, in Starward Tales II, edited by CB Droege (Manawaker Studio, 2017):177-187 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

The pin for this story is somewhere in Alaska, which immediately caught my interest as I realised I know nothing about the legends and stories of that area. Reading such retellings in this anthology is a double-layered process, as a result, as I read the story first for the enjoyment of the story itself, and second to see if I can tease out which bits are hearkening back to the original story and which are new.

The pictures painted in this story are stark, and utterly unfamiliar. In the beginning, were it not for one brief mention of planetary travel, I would not have known that the setting was offworld, as opposed to deeply embedded in the past, or simply in a culture I did not know. It was only one small side reference, too, and it made me worried that this would be another story where the SF element was a thin veneer painted over the top, instead of being integral. To some extent, that worry was founded; there was one clearly SF subplot thread, but it was only ever that. I would love to read a version of the story that inspired this one, to compare the two.