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This story won the first Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction at DragonCon. Other finalists in the category included: “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir (F&SF, July/Aug 2015), “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong (Nightmare, Oct 2015), “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, Jan 2015) and “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette De Bodard (Clarkesworld, Jan 2015). According to the website, the Eugie Foster Award “celebrates the best in innovative fiction.”

Violet Wild lives in Purple Country. She falls in love with Orchid Harm, but he’s eaten by time squirrels. Wearing the Sparrowbone Mask of the Incarnadine Fisherwomen, riding her mammoth Sorrow and carrying her watercolor unicorn, Violet leaves her home and sets off on a journey across several colors of countries in search of the Red Country of Death. Eventually she finds it, where she is reunited with Orchid.

I see this described elsewhere as “absurdist.” I also suspect it might be surrealist. I dunno. It’s a little too innovative for me. It reads like a bad LSD trip, with confusing images and metaphors and varying nonsensical descriptions for each color of country. I do have to say it’s an accomplishment to put together something like this, and I admire the work and the technique that went into it. I gather from the award there is an audience that very much appreciates it; however, I also suspect it’s a niche work. There was nothing about it that attracted me. It’s also quite long. I was skimming by the time I got done.

Two stars.

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