Tristes Tropiques

(1) Ordeal (Sentinel)

By Martha
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 14th June 2000 (3)
Tags: Novella

The opening gets you hooked, wondering what has gone wrong. Then you get initially relieved, realizing that Jim isn't doing this out of sheer spite after all... and you wonder what happened.
    Blair finally tried guilt. "And what about my research? Do you think I'll have any hope in hell of finishing my PhD now? Damn you, Jim, we had an agreement. What gives you the right to ruin my career?"
    A muscle twitched in his jaw. But Jim only said, "Those extra letters after your name won't mean very much if you're dead."

This was very good. There were some good insights there, a struggle to understand, to communicate. There was... a subtlety about this writing that I enjoyed. I'm not sure how else to put it.

It's like I've already used up all the words in the world, Blair thought. There aren't any left for Jim.

Oh, and I liked the titles of the parts. And Blair's friend Paul's theory about Sentinels was an interesting one (though of course, completely wrong!). Just shows the wide world of academia, don't it? I liked this story!

This series was nominated in the 2000 & 2001 Cascade Times Awards in the "series" category.

(2) Snake Oil (Sentinel)

By Martha
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 14th June 2000 (4)
Zine: Knitted Souls
Issue: 4

Ah, this was very good. Most of the other scary/horror TS stories make it look too easy. This one was more realistic, more subtle (there's that word again - subtle) and more ambiguious, in a sense. It didn't require one to believe in reincarnation, or voodoo, or Wicca, or Shamanism, or even Catholicism - just something Other. It built up well. The author again seems to have a good grasp of academia. Maybe some people might possibly complain that this story was too slow, or something, but, I think it works better that way - the slow creeping wondering if one is just imagining things, if one is going crazy... makes other TS stories I've read (so far) of this kind seem about as clumsy as Stonehenge compared to the Notre Dame. You can't really just cure such problems by by an application of Holy Water. Not that easy. I really liked the way that Blair was grasping for rituals and not finding answers ('cuz I had faith he'd figure something out eventually!). This was definitely good.

This story won the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the Scary/Horror category. This series was nominated in the series category.

(3) Cake (Sentinel)

By Martha
Reviewed by Kathryn A on 16th June 2000 (1)
Issue: 4

Great stuff - again! This was very psychological - nightmares, creeping up on you, things you can't remember, but need to. My print-out is peppered with notations of "oh my!" with the occassional "interesting". Boy does Blair get put through the wringer. (And Jim too, but Blair gets a double-dose, considering half the story is about Blair's experiences ten years ago). The good things here aren't so much quotable quotes but cool insights, like:
    His mere presence affected everything around him indefinably and unmistakably as a change in air pressure, the entire world shifting just enough to accomodate the proximity of one Blair Sandburg.
    Maybe not the whole world. Maybe just Jim's world.

No, I disagree with Kitty, the ending was sufficiently smarmy! The quotes from Tristes Tropiques were cool. Makes me curious about the book.

This series was nominated in the 2000 Cascade Times Awards in the "series" category. Also nominated for favourite angst story, favourite horror/scary story in the 2001 Cascade Times Awards