REVIEW: “Rain Falling in the Pines” by Lavie Tidhar

Review of Lavie Tidhar, “Rain Falling in the Pines”, Clarkesworld Issue 181, October (2021): Read Online. Reviewed by Myra Naik.

Really well-defined world-building, with delicious hints of a broader world in the background. I’ve love to read a longer story set in this world. Multiple stories, even.

Geshem is a layered, interesting character, a First Human who lives in a world full of Sapis and genetically modified creatures. It’s a cyberpunk dystopia, and it’s been a while since I’ve read a good cyberpunk story, so this was even more appreciated.

Lovely concept and plot. Multiple characters, and even the minor ones were given strong personalities. I always love when an author pays that kind of attention to detail.

REVIEW: “The Great Train Robbery” by Lavie Tidhar

Review of Lavie Tidhar, “The Great Train Robbery”, Apex Magazine 116 (2019): Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Train robberies are a staple of the movie western, a genre most people are at least passingly familiar with, and so sometimes they find they way into speculative fiction, warped and changed when divorced from their original context. This is a particularly trippy example.

On one level, this is about two gunslingers –one older and grizzled, the other young and reckless – on a train that’s about to be robbed. That part of the story is normal. Beyond that, we have a mysterious drug that gives people glimpses into parallel lives in another world – our world. We have monsters and thieving acrobats and a war between unexplained factions warping their world.

Reading this, I was tempted to ask which world was real – the fantastical one that contains most of the plot or the simulacrum of our mundane reality – but I suspect that is missing the point. My interpretation is that reality is fluid within this story, and can not pinned down by logic. Both worlds are real. Maybe differently real, but real all the same.

Highly recommended for anyone who likes their fiction on the mind-bending side.

REVIEW: “My Struggle” by Lavie Tidhar

Review of Lavie Tidhar, “My Struggle”, Apex Magazine 101: Read Online. Reviewed by Joanna Z. Weston.

Time travelers love to kill Hitler. But what if, instead of time travel to kill him, we had an alt history story in which he was ousted from power before he got going? And what if, after that, he fled to Britain to become a down-on-his-luck PI hiding under the name of Wolf? It’s a weird, borderline offensive premise, but it works surprisingly well. Tidhar hits all the right noir notes, from tight sentences and wry observations, to all the twits and turns and foul play you could hope for.

This was an uncomfortable read for me. I found myself empathizing with Wolf just as much as I reveled in his misfortune, a testament to Tidhar’s skill. It feels sacrilegious to make fun of Hitler, of Nazis, of the the SS and their ilk. They seem to too evil, too huge and looming. There is a fear, when reading this, that to laugh at them (or god forbid, sympathize with their struggles in this alternative world where the Holocaust never happened) is to make light of the evils they perpetrated in reality.

It’s the framing story that allows this to work. A former pulp fiction writer named Shomer is living in the ghetto with the rest of the Jewish people, hearing rumors of trains going east and fearing for the lives of his children. He watches a rendition of Dracula, and reflects on how stories – silly stories, fantastic stories, light stories – are all he has left for comfort. The connection between the framing narrative and the main action broke my heart, and gave the story a surprising depth of meaning.