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To Thee Is This World Given

by Khel Milam

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A short novella that takes place in the familiar territory of the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The story begins in an immediate fashion as we are plunged without explanation into scenes which unfold in a purely physical manner, visceral and out of context.

The following novella is an extended contemplative dialogue between two central figures. The young girl is a spiritual figure and represents elements of the freedom of individual choice and agency. Alternatively, the man who happens across her works from a point of predetermination and is constrained by the limits he sees of a world made after the dead have returned.

Their back and forth forms the main bulk of the rest of the narrative and raises some interesting moral dilemmas and philosophical problems that a world of this kind brings into focus.

The prose is spare and effective, clear and resonant descriptions of the natural world adding to a sense of timelessness. It is impressive how few words are used to create an almost transcendent impression. This is a rare quality and at several points I was taken away by the imagery, an experience I look to literature for and I think may evade me as a result. Perhaps I was more receptive to it here as it was unexpected. Whatever the reason, the writing here shows great promise.

At times the mystical evasiveness of the girl was trying, but I'm presuming deliberately so as this adds to the attitudinal tensions between the central characters. She takes the role of the wise wanderer touched by holy or special insight, and is surrounded by the animals she has picked up along the way that have become her companions due to her demonstrating compassion towards them and an understanding of their natures. This aspect I enjoyed very much and would liked to have seen expanded upon.

A meditation on how living for survival alone can warp and narrow perceptions, how we always have a choice whatever constraints we have built for ourselves, and that the outcome of those choices is not as set as we might believe. ( )
  RebeccaGransden | Jul 8, 2015 |
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