Review of Innocent Chizaram Ilo, “Of Warps and Wefts”, Strange Horizons 5 Mar. 2018: Read online. Reviewed by Danielle Maurer.
Hmmm. Well, this is a strange one.
It’s hard to discuss “Of Warps and Wefts” without explaining the central conceit: that in this world, when one marries, one begins leading a split life of two marriages, one as husband, one as wife. As far as I can tell, that includes a physical transformation. So it’s definitely an interesting way to explore gender and gender roles.
But this is also a case where the story’s concept is perhaps more interesting than the actual story. Our narrator, Chime/Dime, is unhappy with their marriages, particularly their marriage to their husband. And there’s really not much of a story here on that front: at the end, after following the narrator for the day, Chime talks to him as he is transitioning, and her husband agrees that he needs to make more room for her. That’s it. Problem apparently solved. There’s no real intermediary step, no real interaction between the two for most of the story.
What’s more interesting is the stress of living a double life; all the married characters seem to be feeling it, to some degree, and dealing with it in different ways. Chime’s husband is lost in her new wife; Dime’s wife has taken on destructive drug and alcohol abuse. Yet we’re barely able to explore any of this. This is one case where I think the story and characters would benefit from a longer setting.
An interesting story, with a lot of unrealized potential.