Author: Christine Danse
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 45 Pages
At a Glance: A short science fiction story about love and loss, Shaper will drag you through the wringer of emotions.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: Nameless and without an identity, she wakes on the streets of Shapertown, an abandoned city that defies the laws of physics. She’s fleeing a threat she can’t remember. One woman holds the key to unlocking her memories and the dangerous truth: She is the threat.
Review: Our protagonist doesn’t know her name. She’s on the run from people who will kill her, but someone—possibly equally terrible—finds her first. The woman is not kind, not exactly safe, but she is understanding…and seems to know her. Our protagonist goes through a series of intense and varying emotions. Finding out why she was hunted, who she is and why she’s different, and who the woman is, are a large part of her emotional process. When she discovers her past, it inevitably leads her to the bleak reality of her future. The emotional tension was beautifully done.
Shaper is a short story and if I judge this as I would other short stories, it was too long. I loved how it started, but there was a huge flashback chunk smack in the middle of the work which slowed down the tension. Not knowing what was going on, or what was going to happen, created an excellent mystery/thriller vibe, but as soon as we had that flashback, my emotional investment melted away. It would have been better, maybe, to end the story right after the flashback, or it may have worked better if the flashback had been shorter. As it was, the story emotionally ended for me about two thirds of the way through.
As for the science fiction elements, they didn’t seem as important as the interpersonal conflicts and relationships. The world is a dystopia, where the government controls people who develop special powers. We knew a little bit about what sorts of powers people can have, but mainly we knew our protagonist was running from those people who collect those with powers, and that seemed to be enough worldbuilding for me. I could have done without the details provided in the flashback.
The true win for me was the wonderful tension we felt through the back and forth between the protagonist and the woman, and the mysterious elements in the story. If you like short pieces about dystopian lit, especially lesbian in nature, then give this one a shot. I’d also be on the lookout for when this author writes another novel.
You can buy Shaper here: