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"The Dala Horse": An Odd Science Fiction Tale Told From a Very Distorted Perception

Updated on September 18, 2017

The Dala Horse By Micheal Swanwich


Whenever I’m in the middle of very long book, I like to take breaks. I have nothing against big books, but I just feel that they overstay their welcome if they are slow paced and I just need to break before I can finish the rest. This usually happens around the five hundred page mark. So I took a break from the very long book The Tommy Knockers to read The Martian and it turns out the Martian is very dull, giving me flashbacks of college courses opposed to entertaining me. So I must take a break from that as well (I will return to them. No book left behind is my motto). I resorted to short stories. I decided to read the next short in my copy of the 29th Volume of The Year’s Best Scifi. This one is called The Dala Horse.

So what is it about? Well it begins with a girl who must travel through the woods to her grandmother’s house. But its quickly revealed in the story she is a bit of a simple girl as she does not know how to do much and her talking map and talking backpack must do things for her. She soon stumbles across what she believes to be a troll. And this where the story shifts. The troll she sees (And believes to be throughout the entire story) is a man. He is a dirty, skinny, rough survivor. He speaks of some sort of war. He despises her talking devices saying the worst thing man ever did was to make things that think on its own. He despises the girl saying she’s a Swede and knows nothing of the world but travels with her anyways, as they are soon haunted by the mysterious white lady.

The good? The story tells a scifi tale from the point of view of a naïve child who believes in fairy tales, so it makes this story quite a puzzle box. She saw a war survivor as troll so it makes the reader ask, what does the ghostly whit lady represent? What exactly happened in the finale? It all must be a metaphor for something. What did the man imply about the main character? Is he saying that she was artificial like her backpack and map. She certainly was so naïve that there is a lot of ambiguity to the story that you could make conspiracy theories about it and I like stories that make me think.

The bad? The detail is rather weak. And even though I did like the direction this author took, but what does it all mean really? It is a bit too ambiguous for many. As I like stories that leave me wondering and let imagination put things together, I know many who would desire a story with a true beginning, middle, and end.

Overall, I did enjoy it, but it’s far from perfect and not for everyone. I think it’s a very experimental story that is very fun and recommend it to people who will like a little puzzle of a story. Beyond that, I think everyone else who read this review will know where they stand by this point.

3 smoothies out of Four

Overall Rating: An Odd Science Fiction Tale Told From A Very Distorted Perception

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