Usually a cool idea alone doesn’t do it for me. Sometimes I’m content with a story that encourages me to explore a cool idea. But what I really want with a cool idea is an awesome story. Like “Stereogram of the Gray Fort, in the Days of Her Glory,” by Paul M. Berger. It’s the sort of story I was hoping to find when I decided to join the Short Story Club at Torque Control.
A elf, Loran, and his human wife, Jessica, visit a ruined fort. From the first words, the story does an excellent job of portraying how the bond between them allows them to share sensory input, but not thoughts.
Their conversation is filled with suggestions of an epic history, war, conquest, and resistance. Loran is so arrogant, you just know he has underestimated his wife. That we confirm when we read Jessica’s side of the story. I like the Rashomonization in getting different meanings from the same events, but I could live without the verbatim repetition of dialogue.
Only after the story is allowed to take shape, do we get to the conceit that spawned it: a stereogram that can only be comprehended by a bonded pair. This stereogram is wonderful enough, but the best part is the way it pays off in the ending.