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Reviews by verityvirtue

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stone, by Penny Stirling
A love letter to an aromantic friend, May 13, 2016
by verityvirtue (London)
Related reviews: sub-Q, melancholic
stone is a love (?) letter to a close friend, who is an aromantic student. Their incapability of infatuation and romantic love is viewed, in this world, as a sign of illness - of a stone heart, so to speak.

This is a work of interactive poetry, and in many respects is highly atypical. The kerning is uneven; the tone, conversational. The relationship between the two main characters is clothed in a magical setting where students build bestiaries and have to pass evoking exams. It is fitting, then, that the NPC's inability to feel romantic love is compared to a pathological calcification of the soul.

stone is affectionate, intimate, reassuring. The world building reminded me of Michael Swanwick's The Iron Dragon's Daughter, with its mix of sci-fi and high fantasy. stone, however, is almost its opposite. While Swanwick's novel heavily features sexual energy as a source of power, stone's magicians need not experience sexual attraction. The Iron Dragon's Daughter features an unforgiving, gritty world; stone depicts a tender, intimate moment between two friends. Recommended.


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