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

SCI FICTION, February 16, 2005

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"Jane" by Marc Laidlaw

Image This week's SCI FICTION offering, short story "Jane" by Marc Laidlaw, has an ominous feel, with a lush, evocative atmosphere that is especially eerie in its familiar-yet-alien setting. 

Father is fiercely protective of his family, forbidding his children from approaching the road that goes to the city.  The symbolism of Father "hooding" his daughters, as one hoods hunting falcons to keep them docile, is both telling and chilling.  Ignorance is maintained with as much fanatic rigor as blindness, all with a tender devotion.  And when the city does intrude upon their blissful innocence, it brings blood, pain, and death in its wake.  Is it justification for Father's excessive protectiveness, or is something else going on?  Laidlaw sprinkles clues of a lost or abandoned dominion, reminiscent of Shakespeare's Prospero, tantalizing the reader with speculation.

Laidlaw's story is fascinating, compelling in a way that burrows beneath the skin, leaving behind a chill that transcends monsters in the dark, because it's about monsters that love us.  The only complaint I have is that I was left yearning for more.  Many questions are left unresolved, leaving a burning desire for closure and understanding, particularly concerning the background and motivation of Father.  

"Jane" felt like a tantalizing glimpse into a longer work, one that I'm clamoring to read.