Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter

I’m afraid I have to agree with Matt Cheney’s essay on the story just posted on Strange Horizons. I really love a lot of Geoff Ryman’s work, but this one feels like a misfire, for a lot of the reasons Matt mentions.

I’d go a step further than Matt and say context has a lot to do with the praise for the story. In the context of mainstream literary fiction, this story would likely be less praised because in that context it would be less unusual in the way it breaks the fourth wall. And it’s the way it uses postmodern technique–smugly, it seems to me–that made me react so violently against it. In short, the story feels not like cultural misappropriation so much as misappropriation of technique. The story did not give me the kind of unease that comes from authorial intent, but the kind of unease that comes from mistake.


6 comments on “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter

  1. Gwenda says:

    Geoffy did a flat-out amazing reading of this story at Wiscon two years ago — and I’ll never be able to separate it from his terrifying performance. In some ways, I wish I’d been able to come to it cold, because I find it very hard to read without the shadow of that brilliant reading, to discern what else might be there that I’m missing.

  2. Gwenda says:

    That should be Geoff — my keyboard is throwing out extra “y”s for some reason today!

  3. No, I prefer “Geoffy”. Much cuter. LOL!

    It could be that hearing him read it also changes the emphasis–i.e., my opinion might change. Regardless, the failure, if it is one, is at a high level of technical expertise. I offer up the opinion because (1) I doubt Ryman will suffer because of it, given the WF nod and (2) I gotta stay honest or my street cred is gone.


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