A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: An inventive short story about two men who travel to different worlds and create creatures to populate them.
Haron and Wiskar have served Sky Holder as Creators of Worlds for millions of years, but their relationship has always been turbulent. Wiskar creates predators and scavengers like the wolf and the vulture, while Haron fashions gentler creatures like deer and rabbits. Though Haron is saddened to watch his creations hunted by predators, he can’t deny his attraction to Wiskar’s strengths. Ready to return home and hoping Haron will leave with him, Wiskar challenges his partner to a test of individual strengths – but Haron has a different definition of victory than Wiskar, and this is one battle he’s determined not to lose.
Haron and Wiskar are like two very different sides of the same coin. They both work in tandem to create a world, then they move on to another. Yet, for all that they can accomplish when they work together, they are very, very different. Wiskar, who is rough and often foul-tempered, likes to create the hunters and predators of the world — the wolf, the vulture, and other carnivorous animals. Haron, who is sweet-tempered and endlessly patient with Wiskar (often to the point of being dreamy), likes to create the gentle creatures of the world — the bunnies, the herbivores, as well as anything of beauty, like sweet-scented flowers. They have worked as a team creating worlds for Sky Holder for millions of years, and have fallen deeply, passionately in love. Or so Haron believes. Yet, getting Wiskar to admit to liking anything, even remotely tolerating anything without a hint of disdain, even himself, is toiling.
So, like any sweet and intelligent (though maybe slightly devious) man that he is, Haron decides that he will have to do something to get Wiskar to throw him down and ravish him, or they can not go on creating worlds, especially since Wiskar tends to create all of his animals in about the same amount of time Haron likes to lovingly craft a single flower. So, when Wiskar challenges him to a battle of creation, he knows that his wits can beat Wiskar’s strength any day. More than anything, however, Haron understands what this test of wills is all about, and the possible outcome if he can win.
This little story by G.R. Richards was, I admit, not what I expected it to be, and I was happy with the story as it turned out. I love the snarky voice it is told in. It is also told much like a fairy tale — short, sweet and to the point. That works well for a short story, especially one where there is world building. I often have trouble getting into short stories that aren’t contemporaries for that very reason. The voice in this story (which is mostly Haron’s POV, though it changes between Haron and Wiskar) is funny and led me to believe that the world-building wasn’t very important. The story is really all about Haron and Wiskar, who are two extremes that we know are meant for one another from the moment we see what they create. The way those extremes are described, Haron as a sort of doe-eyed, innocent princeling type, and Wiskar, the gruff, can’t bear to talk about emotions and ready to dunk his head into a barrel of beer, lumberjack type, are almost satirical of a typical fairy tale romance, especially between two men. It led to a light and funny read that I really enjoyed.
There were a few things that I didn’t really understand, specifically dealing with the corn and beans and the racks of elk (this is dealing with their duel), but it didn’t sour my enjoyment of the story. Though, I do think that if I had understood a lot of those little details I would have gotten more from the story. It could be just that those are references that I didn’t really understand. Still, I don’t think they lead to any great revelations, as this isn’t the sort of story that I feel is supposed to impart some sort of meaning other than the enjoyment of the story itself. It might be that I am wrong, but I enjoyed it for being light-hearted without trying to drive home any sort of message.
I really enjoyed the two loons, Susan and Bill, who share a similar relationship to Wiskar and Haron, yet also watch from the sidelines in bemused silence. I was a bit startled by the way the two men get to the different worlds by “Divine Vessel” (and you will be two, I think). It reminded me a bit of a scene in Pedro Almodovar’s film Talk to Her, where a character runs around in a giant re-creation of a vagina (that’s all I’ll tell you, I swear!).
This story was, however, quirky and with it’s own sense of humor. For that, I enjoyed it very much. Recommended for a quick, light read with lots of imagination.