Tangent Online

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Diabolical Plots #33A & B, November 2017

E-mail Print

Diabolical Plots #33, November 2017

"When One Door Shuts," by Aimee Ogden

"Shoots and Ladders" by Charles Payseur

Reviewed by Filip Wiltgren

In "When One Door Shuts," by Aimee Ogden, a young woman is living with the memory of her dead twin, a family that blames her, and a door that restores the dead to life—but only if a living person walks through it. A cosmic tit for tat, to quote the story.

"When One Door Shuts," is a story about love, and the lack of it. About how families can shut out their own members, and about wishes, and what happens when they're fulfilled. To me, it's also a story about hope, or lack thereof, although I suspect the writer didn't intend it that way. And that's the beauty of "When One Door Shuts," that you can interpret its ordinary life quite extraordinarily. It's a longing, wistful, beautiful story, and if you, like me, love to cry at sad movies, I suspect you'll love "When One Door Shuts."

What if you had a gun that could destroy the universe? Not just destroy it, but replace it with another, where you were still you, but a new you, in a new house, with new friends, new loves, new money? That's the premise of Charles Payseur's "Shoots and Ladders."

It's an intriguing idea—how often would one keep changing the channel to find the perfect place? —and the story is very well written. At the same time, I felt that I wanted more, or perhaps less. Right now, "Shoots and Ladders" straddles an uncomfortable middle for me, where I don't have the time to fully engage with and explore the character and the world(s), but at the same time have to read beyond the point of just getting a cool idea. But if you can accept unresolved ambiguity in an idea piece, you'll have a lot of fun with "Shoots and Ladders."