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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons, 28 February 2005

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"Moons Like Great White Whales" by Charles Coleman Finlay

"Moons Like Great White Whales" by Charles Coleman Finlay begins with a tri-mooned vista overseeing a watery planetscape. Strange Horizons indeed. The opening paragraph is lyrical, graceful, drawing the reader into a sweeping expanse of sky and water. Finlay gently orients on two winged people—lovers and partners—coasting on oceanic zephyrs, and musing upon the nature of change.

Change can be destructive and frightening, necessary and beautiful. It is typically unwelcome, yet it often heralds an era of growth and progress. So, what happens when one is content in the here and now? Is it worth the danger of the unknown to combat the looming threat of stagnation? As Finlay's nameless characters muse upon their past—their idyllic meeting—their present glorious flight, and their future with each other, they are presented with this unsettling quandary.

Finlay's prose waxes poetic with lines such as: "Ripples of blue stretched off to a horizon that merged with the color of the twilight sky so that the moons seemed to leap from the water," but curiously, mere sentences later, his prose exhibits an uncharacteristic patchy, dare I say, clunky, cadence. It makes for a less-than-immersive read in a story so short. And the conclusion left me feeling as though I'd read several pages of a non-event.

While I give this tale points for making forays into depth, in the end, it neither fully satisfied nor fully entertained.