REVIEW: “Some Kind of Wonderland” by Richard Bowes

Review of Richard Bowes, “Some Kind of Wonderland”, in Steve Berman, ed., Wilde Stories 2018: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction (Lethe Press, 2018): 23-40 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

“Some Kind of Wonderland” is the story of a 50th anniversary rescreening of an Alice in Wonderland movie filmed in the desolate spaces of New York City.

I’ve never liked Alice in Wonderland. As a child watching the movie, I always felt like I was missing something because there was no story, just disconnected scenes, and it was so frustrating. When I was older, I tried reading the book, and couldn’t stand it; I don’t think I’ve ever succeeded in finishing an unabridged version of it. It always seemed like there could have — should have — been so much more to the story than there actually was.

Bowes’ story recounts the scenes in the movie one by one, spliced with the reactions of the audience and with memories of the filming fifty years earlier. It’s hard to describe a film in words; yet Bowes describes it so carefully and so beautiful you’d think the movie he writes about was real. I wish it were real: I want to see it.

One thing that struck me about this story was how minimal the speculative content was; in fact, it’s difficult to pick out any detail that is clearly speculative. But another thing that struck me was that I didn’t even realise this lack until almost all the way through the story, it was that good, and that gripping. Two thumbs up. Even if I’m not sure why it’s in this particular anthology, I’m glad it was because otherwise I’m not sure I would’ve ever come across it and read it.

(Originally published in Mad Hatters and March Hares, Tor Books, 2017.)