2007 Award Category: Genres: Alternate Universe: Gondor or Rohan - Second Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: Teen ✧ Reason for Rating: Language, adult themes.
Summary: The good people of Minas Tirith deal with Starbucks, tourism, pedagogy, Haradric cuisine, and the day-to-day, twenty years after the end of the War of the Ring. A spinoff to "Fallen," a longer work in progress.
Reviewed by: EdorasLass ✧ Score: 10
I deeply enjoy this version of the Narrator, all annoyed with these kids today and the way things are changing so rapidly and tourists invading her well-ordered workspace and OMG GET OFF MY LAWN. She's definitely got the curmudgeonly thing going, and somehow I find it very endearing, while being a very realistic attitude of someone living through the reconstruction and all that goes with it. I LOVE the oh-so-very-married dynamic between her and ...her husband,both in the cafe and when she's teaching the kids how to sew stitches. The exchange between she and Elloth is wonderful. In Fallen proper, it always seems like they're slightly too far apart in many ways to actually be friends, but here I get the definite impression that, even if they're not let's-have-lunch friends, they've got a clear understanding of each other in a way they do with no-one else. They seem very comfortable and fond of one another, and I imagine that one wouldn't really know what to do without the other, although it's possible they'd deny it. And I have to admit, I get the same sense of outrage Narrator has about making the Pelennor a subdivision when I hear of old buildings are torn down to make room for new, shiny, modern, ugly buildings - how dare they? Don't they know the history behind those buildings? Don't they know those buildings are important and significant? With the Narrator, it seems as if she's trying to hold on to a part of the past that really, wasn't actually something that it seems like one would *want* to hold on to. But perhaps it isn't so much she's wanting to hold on as it is that she's afraid the entire War will be forgotten, minimized somehow, if the Pelennor is filled with condos and split-level ranch-style homes. I can't entirely disagree with her.
Reviewed by: annmarwalk ✧ Score: 10
Another witty and sardonic postmodern tale from Aliana. It is now twenty years after the siege of Minas Tirith, and the city has rebounded emotionally, socially, and economically beyond anyone's wildest dreams. A university, a thriving Haradric quarter with take-out curry shops, Starbucks and Mickey D's and KFC, and a postwar baby-boomer generation threatening to burst the White City at its seams. The only place to grow is outward; so a central theme of the story is the debate over the proposal to allow affordable housing to be built out on the Pelennor. Though on the surface the concept seems a bizarre twist on Tolkien's work, perhaps this is the very future he foresaw, and chose not the write. How would the good folk of Middle-earth deal with normalcy? Aliana's dialog is alternately hilarious and thought-provoking, and her characters, even those making quick walk-on appearances, are vivid and realistic. Haven't we all known relentlessly perky students like Piri, hardworking and ambitious entrepreneurs like Mrs Ishrani, or even class clowns like Firendir: [Ooow! Firendir wails. My husband sighs, walks over to him, and smacks him on the side of his crew-cut head. Look, if youre going to be a soldier, youre going to have to learn to DEAL WITH A LITTLE PAIN.]. Yet as wacky and entertaining as the story is, there is a bittersweet side to it, in the underlying debate as to whether or not the City's past should be respected or enshrined. [Dont you care? Theyre calling it Pelennor Fields Quality Homes or something insipid like that. Dont you think the Pelennor should be preserved as it is? You fought on those fields, your friends fought on those fields.] The Narrator is nearly screaming with frustration, but she's nonplussed by her husband's reply: [Well, maybe Id like to see houses and kids there for a change, instead of seeing piles of the dead in my mind. Have you thought about that?] It's a debate that's continuing even to our Age. Too bad that ours is driven more by greed than the urge toward rebirth and renewal.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 10
Another fine addition to Aliana's collection of Houses of Healing stories, postmodern and otherwise. What I love about these stories, and about Aliana's writing in general, is the way she manages to capture the sense of time moving on, of everyone being perpetually out of step with time. Whether it's not having enough of it, because facing a sort of end of time within time (end of the world, end times), or whether it is the phenomenon of a sort of lost time, a being out of time and not being able to quite fit in to the new world that is first and foremost a new Age, her characters stumble through their lives, missing moments and sanity, but at certain crucial sticking points, they manage to stand up straight and say the truth of their situation. Then they tumble free and who knows what will happen to them? Nostalgia and idealism, engagement and disillusionment, and the irony of getting exactly what you thought you always wanted and discovering that that was never quite it - all of these things play in so strongly to Aliana's work. It may be funny, it may be tragic, but it captures something that feels very real - a way of being that we recognize from our own time and see reflected in a work that is oriented by a book already dated, reflecting an image of a past that never was. It's great! Long live postmodern Gondor - and I hope to see more of Fallen one day soon...
Reviewed by: dkpalaska ✧ Score: 9
I never would have thought I'd enjoy post-modern Middle-earth stories until reading Aliana's versions of it. It doesn't hurt that I'm deeply smitten with her serious fic, ["Fallen"], from which these spring. But her spin-offs are funny and thought-provoking even without that previous familiarity; they touch on universal human truths, sneakily couched in a delightful blend of M-e and current times. In ["Subdivisions"], the characters who were once involved in the Ring War are faced with a common modern-day trade-off: prosperity bought at the price of a land's soul. The disposable society has led to a better life for many, but it often also seems to cheapen things; there really is that sense of nostalgia for the "olden days", which hindsight renders in glowing colors. Of course, the olden days had their own problems, and Aliana uses her characters to great effect to explore the complex issue of accepting the cost of progress and the different viewpoints of those involved. Well-constructed and written with a light but insightful tone, this blends humor and profundity in just the right mixture, leaving me laughing out loud even as the voice in my head says, "Too true - all too true."
Reviewed by: Marta ✧ Score: 6
There are so many parts of this story that are so *funny* - the Starbucks, the curry shop in Gondor, the in-text reference to [Mrs. Narrator] - but by the end I found myself strangely sobered. Aliana has profound skill for getting at heavy themes with a feather-light touch, and she uses it to good affect in this piece. I think the part that will have me thinking for a while yet is the busted shop window that at first our narrator thinks is some sort of a terrorist attack. In a way it is - the shoddy construction encapsulates all that the characters hate about the modern world, and something as simple as substandard building construction could be seen as a terroristic attack, at least in a city as grand and *old* as Minas Tirith is. So good work, Aliana. I had my doubts about whether a PoMo Gondor could work, but you pleasantly surprised me.
Reviewed by: Imhiriel ✧ Score: 6
A successful blend of modern aspects and Middle-earth, weird, hilarious, but also thought-provoking. A wonderful cast of three-dimensional, memorable characters. Vivid dialogues. The theme being addressed repeatedly in the story - preserving the past or looking towards the future - was well-developed, and I appreciated that there was no simple answer (although the vision of tourist shops near the HoH and asphalt on the Pelennor are rather horrifying). I personally think that Aragorn as king would manage to find the right balance. I especially enjoyed Piri, and the Haradric items coming so much in demand. I also liked how some themes from "Dance on the Way Down" were picked up, partly examined from another angle.
Reviewed by: Linda hoyland ✧ Score: 3
A surreal look at what might happen if modern America could meet Minas Tirith.I Could well imagine it would quickly become a prime tourist attraction as in this story.The writer makes some interesting and pertinent points about globalisation and the generation gap.