Mandolin's Fantasy Story, Viewed Through A Science Fiction Lens

From an interesting post at

For some reason this got me thinking of a couple of this year’s stand out stories which are most definitely fantasy, but which benefit from a reader viewing them through a science fictional lens.

“My story should have ended on the day I died. Instead, it began there.”

The first of these is Rachel Swirsky’s “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window,” a marvelous novella published in Subterranean Online. While this is undoubtedly a fantasy story, with elements that would not seem out of place in an antique copy of Weird Tales, it is very much a treatise on immortality, or the effects upon humanity of living beyond one’s natural time period, through a conceit that works very similarly to time travel.

Much like classic science fiction novel The Forever War, the protagonist skips across aeons as she is resurrected again and again to advise a series of leaders, and sees the world change into something utterly unrecognisable. She is particularly confronted by changes in perceptions towards gender and sexuality which alienate her from the societies that need her help.

While it is entirely framed as a fantasy story, with the teaching and sharing of magic an essential plot point, not to mention a ghost constantly at the beck and call of her former employer’s descendants, the structure of the story is strongly science fictional. It feels like a science fiction story at its core.

“The Lady…” (which is my personal favorite of Mandolin’s stories, so far) definitely feels, to me, like it includes elements of both sf and fantasy.

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One Response to Mandolin's Fantasy Story, Viewed Through A Science Fiction Lens

  1. 1
    lilacsigil says:

    I don’t know if this kind of story can be categorised, but it is a genuinely magnificent act of imagination and story-telling.