Strange Horizons -- February 4, 2019

Tuesday, 05 February 2019 20:19 Christos Antonaros

Strange Horizons, February 4, 2019

The Magician’s Clown” by ML Kejera

Reviewed by Christos Antonaros

From the first sentences of “The Magician’s Clown” we are introduced to a world where the passing of a year is divided into only two seasons: a deadly winter and a rejuvenating spring. However, spring will not arrive if the magician, Heimrich the Magnanimous, and his clown, Proppo, don't make the children laugh—an entire town's prosperity depends on it. When the time is right, parents gather their children and the magician manifests his tricks, while the clown pretends his excitement, guiding the audience toward the desired outcome. Proppo, the clown, though, is not as happy as he appears to be before his audience. Underneath his make-up, he carries a smile-less face. He has been on stage before the magician, serving his audience and, now, a master who hasn't proven his capabilities, for Heimrich has inherited his privilege. One day a woman arrives during rehearsal and accuses the magician of stealing her laugh years ago. Then, she tries to take over Proppo’s role as clown, by challenging him, just to teach a lesson to the oppressive magician.

The dialog is formed by different dialects indicating a generational gap as well as social class differences among the characters. Although, the most interesting part of the story is the emphasis in symbolism. Proppo could be viewed as an old generation serving an oppressive privileged class, which is symbolized by the magician. The motives which hold Proppo on-stage are tradition and a sense of obligation towards the magician and the ones before him. The new generation, represented by the woman, comes to break this miserable tradition, risking the loss of spring. A significant question is generated by the successful synthesis of the above symbols. Is prosperity ideal when it comes from sacrificing a generation's dreams and oppressed emotions?