The Anomalous Archive, Part XXII: 'The Siren's Song' by Rebecca Bruner
[This review was originally posted on the Anomaly forum on July 19, 2011.]
"The Siren's Song," 2nd in Issue 8 of The Cross and the Cosmos
"The Siren's Sword" by Rebecca D. Bruner is, I think, a full novella, one that feels very professional. It begins with a fairly long prologue that seems almost as strong as the main story. Somewhat reminiscent of G.L. Francis's "Shell" from the previous issue of The Cross and the Cosmos, a second-person imperative voice is seen in a few italicized paragraphs that open and close the prologue section. Unlike in "Shell", this unusual kind of narrative does not carry the bulk of the emotional impact of the story, which makes it hard to interpret in light of the characters who appear in the main body of the story. I wonder if the italicized paragraphs in the prologue are supposed to be a dream of the protagonist, even though such a dream is not mentioned or implied.
That protagonist is a solid, likable character with well-developed motives and attitudes. Little details are used to good effect to build character. The antagonist is understandable and at least a little sympathetic, and even a couple of the minor characters are fairly solid. However, the story seems rushed, which sometimes makes the characters seem hollow despite the details that reveal them. I feel that meaningful character interaction is sometimes cut short, described in a paragraph instead of having the characters reveal their own relationships. However, I can see that the story is already quite long as it is. "The Siren's Sword" is one of the handful of stories published by The Cross and the Cosmos that could have made a good novel had the author expanded on his or her material. I think "The Siren's Sword" might have made a better novel than it makes a short story, but it's still certainly a good short story.