The Anomalous Archive, Part IX: 'Suicidal Impact' by KM Wilsher

[This review was originally posted on the Anomaly forum on April 16, 2010.]

 "Suicidal Impact," 3rd of Issue 3 of The Cross and the Cosmos

This short story packs an amazing amount of both content and meaning into its two pages. I think that "Suicidal Instinct" is best appreciated after having been read through at least twice, which its small size allows. Even though it is completely linear, so many details of the genre-defying setting are introduced, going against preconceived expectations, that it requires strict attention to follow, especially in light of the significant moral messages that the story explicitly puts forward.

I'm sure that KM Wilsher isn't the first author to freely mix gothic fantasy and science fiction, but I haven't personally read any fiction with the same crossing of genres. Mention is explicitly made to the old vampire tradition, and I suspect that this short story is influenced by the modern vampire novel, but I haven't read any of that specific type of novel, either. There seems to be a slight nod toward conventional high fantasy as well. Magic and technology seem to be independent and both abundant in this creative vision of the future, with various mythological and gothic creatures living on different planets.

The best part of the plot is some sort of spiritual institution of vampires, as far as I can gather. The leader of this institution is either a sort of vampire Messiah, thus analogous to what our Lord Jesus is to us, or else is simply a devout professor, or something. This interesting piece of background information forms the connection between the fun (but somewhat haphazard) setting and the plot.

As interesting as the setting is, I think it is the plot that is most important to this story. The story is completely centered around one incident of intense drama. However, I don't think the conflict comes off quite as dramatic as it might have, because so much of the reader's attention is diverted to the setting and the moral message that not very much emotional build-up occurs. The main plot device is dialog. I get the feeling that the plot is tightly controlled, every word serving a purpose, and that is a very good thing. The two important characters are somewhat developed in the dialog, but they essential serve as functions of the plot. I don't think the identity of these two people is all that important to the story itself.

In these two short pages, we come up against the meaning of life and the nature of God's grace. At times, I've felt a little like the supporting character. I wish I had something more concrete to say about this important theme, but this short story demonstrates well the folly of spiritual despair. "Suicidal Instinct" by KM Wilsher is a very worthwhile little story indeed.


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