Short Reviews – In Rubble, Pleading, Michael Bishop

In Rubble, Pleading by Michael Bishop appears in the February 1974 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Michael Bishop’s In Rubble, Pleading was one of those odd stories that likes to sneak its way into Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction which is not particularly fantastical or really science fiction, or even speculative, beyond the speculation of the character within. This piece has a bit of horror and southern gothic going on with it, but didn’t scratch the itch I’ve had lately. It wasn’t a bad story, so I won’t hold that against it.

Folks are in a barbershop right after one of a series of deadly tornadoes, talking about the weather. One guy recounts a particularly gruesome anecdote about a boy he found with a board sticking through his torso and how there was nothing that could be done but wait for the kid to succumb to his injuries. The boy in the barbershop thinks to himself that maybe a conscious force is directing the tornadoes.

I… I’m sorry, I couldn’t make that sound interesting.  It’s the sort of thing you might read in one of those collections of “REALTRUELIFESCARYSTORIES!” or some other book dressed up as campfire ghost stories that aren’t really ghost stories, and it would feel at home there. But at least it wasn’t a 61 page Jewish Mother joke or a Joanna Russ screed about white privilege!

If you go into a story like this with ghost-story/true-horror expectations, you’ll find that it’s a pretty decent well-told examples of the genre. Just maybe don’t read it coming down from the high of finishing one of Leigh Brackett’s Mars novel.

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