ShortFic Review: Uxo, Bomb Dog (Futurismic)

SFnal news-and-gubbins blogsite Futurismic recently announced that it would be returning to the fiction-publishing game; maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can sure as hell get it to recall the old ones. This being a rather clumsy lead-in to their first new story: Eliot Fintushel‘s Uxo, Bomb Dog.

This is not a review. I’m not going to go into too much depth, or get too critical, partly because I think you should just go read the story for yourself, but also because it’s political and satirical and juggles contentious issues like landmines and warfare and the wholesale slaughter of civilians for ideology and profit. You know, the sort of shit that’s only contentious if something’s not wired quite right in your head… and you see where I’m not letting myself go, right? So instead I’m just going to let myself ramble a little about why I like this story, in the hopes that you go and find out if you like it as well.

Anyway, the story’s set in the USA, at an undefined point in the future, or perhaps a little way up a parallel timeline that branched off somewhere in the C20. The country has been torn asunder by conflict, the horrors of war finally brought home to the USian public. The participants hardly matter. They’re just names, with perhaps hints of the ideology that lies beneath: Xians, Neo-Luddites, Anti-atheists, Lefts, Rights. They’re a tragicomic satirical sketch of the bizarre excesses of the USian political landscape, but they’re not what’s really important. For this Fintushel’s narration introduces some real-world statistics:

“Near the start of the twentieth century, ninety percent of war dead were soldiers. At the end it was ten percent. Now, into the twenty first, Nader bless and save us, they say it’s five.”

What’s important is the people, and it’s the people who are getting hurt.

The tale itself is brilliantly written, with a distinctive voice and a playful approach to its arduous subject matter; here and there little public safety announcement-style slogans crop up, like “USE YOUR PATE – CIRCUMNAVIGATE” – minefields, evidently. Fintushel’s tongue is planted firmly in his cheek throughout, as evidenced by the dominant, um, pseudo-religious movement of his USA being Naderism (complete with rubber noses, street parades and general amnesties). Fintushel’s characters are endearing and lovable; they’re not whole, many missing digits or limbs or worse, but they’re not broken. Not least of these memorable names is the eponymous Uxo, the last Bomb Dog – a Colonel in the United States Military and the recipient of a Purple Heart, no less. And they’re what gives the story its heart, its love of the living over dead machines and bombs. It comes down to a contest, too, with the living breathing Uxo put up against a cold de-mining machine under the moniker Volkovoy.

Anyway, I can only hope that this enthusiastic wittering has encouraged you to click the right hyperlink. Whether it’s because the story sounds appealing, or because you think I’m full of shit and want to point out why, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

A conclusion: if this is the shape of things to come, Futurismic will be… well, it’s already in my RSS reader. Is it in yours?

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