Monday, March 02, 2009

SSS: "The Fantastical Acquisition of the Sword of General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna

Angeline Hawkes tells a story of a combined American / Mexican mission to stop Adolf Hitler from acquiring the sword of famed (and infamous) Mexican General and President Santa Anna. The year is 1938.

Quinn O'Reilly sometimes assists the Texas Rangers with missions that even they need help with. He joins with Anna Rosa Ramirez, a beautiful intelligence agent from Mexico, and with the assistance of Anna Rosa will try to stop Odell Roberts bring the stolen sword to Hitler. Posing as husband and wife, Quinn and Anna Rosa set up in a house near Odell's mother's home. The mother is their only link to finding Odell.

What works here is the initial air of mystery. The reader doesn't know why the sword is important, only that it must be found. Nothing happens until Quinn leaves to make his report to the Rangers, though this "nothing happening" is strangely the most compelling aspect of the story. After Quinn leaves Anna Rosa behind I had to sigh in frustration. Of course there is a rape in the story. Of course. Thankfully we never see the physical act on the page, but was it necessary to the story?

I don't know. But it bothered me. Not even simply in a moral sense - that's a given. I just don't think it serves the story.

Yes, yes, I'm sure this is something that fits in with the pulp nature of the story. I get it, maybe. The rape just felt too "easy" to include. Out of place. Unnecessary.

The rest of it, the resolution - good stuff. A little campy with the inclusion of Hitler himself, but that works. The twists presented in the rest of the story both fits in with the story and works as a narrative delight (especially the final one). Had I thought about the nature of the story as I was reading I probably could have predicted that final twist, but I was (and am) content to enjoy the story.

"The Fantastical Acquisition of the Sword of General Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna" is the fifth entry in Spicy Slipstream Stories. It's a good one.

This is only tangentally related to the anthology, but I'm noticing a trend forming. I like every other story. The Selke, Mantchev, and now the Hawkes. Stories 1, 3, and 5. Not so much stories 2 and 4. I don't expect this Bret Saberhagen odd-story trend to continue, but it struck me enough to mention.

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