Listen Up: Subsiding Bells

"The Bells of Subsidence" by Michael John Grist is on of those stories that tantalise on the edge of comprehension. Words are used in strange ways that tickle the neurons into thinking they are about to understand what it all means. Poets and songwriters sometimes pull this kind of thing off, creating something beautiful and evocative, while others merely create a sense that they didn't really know what they were talking about and hoped that if they threw enough obscure words at it that no one notice its essential meaninglessness.

Grist's story falls somewhere in the middle. The general story that he's putting across is quite simple. In fact, during the opening scenes the main character says something that tells us instantly that the whole story is going to be is going to be about how all that she said would come to pass. It's in the descriptions of the spaceships, those being the bells of the title, and the folds of space wherein minds are lost, that the story has its lilt but the metaphor shakes.  The ringing of the bells didn't quite work for me.

Another interesting point in the story is how the culmination comes about. It involves a huge, but voluntary, loss of life. Some commentors see this as a bad thing. Others see the idea of all these characters being able to commit to a cause, even at the cost of their lives, as a sad but ultimately hopefull thing.

You will have to decide for yourself.

Check out "The Bells of Subsidence" at Clarkesworld Magazine.