Speculative Fiction Reviews
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Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Rooster, by Jenn Reese - Strange Horizons, 21 February 2005

Tales of the Chinese Zodiac: Rooster, by Jenn Reese

The second of Jenn Reese's series of short-shorts appeared on Strange Horizons back at the end of February, but I missed it at the time. Each of the tales takes a sign of the Chinese zodiac for its theme and spins out a short tale. This month was "Rooster". For nine nights, Chen dreams of a giant rooster destroying the land. He is convinced it is a portent from the gods, and he tries to warn everyone of it, but no one will listen. So he decides to take matters into his own hands and begins to hunt down and kill roosters. Chen was right that this was a portent from the gods, but he has misunderstood it rather badly.

As I commented in my review of the first story in this series, short-shorts are difficult to manage. Once again, Reese has managed to squeeze an entire story into, in this case, less than 500 words. Her protagonist is believable and the story arc nicely complete.

I marginally prefered the first story in this sequence, Monkey, but both stories have been excellent. On the strength of these two, the series is more engaging and interesting than Jay Lake's Rushes series, and at least as good as Ben Rosenbaum's Other Cities.

Finally, I should note that Jenn Reese's illustrations that accompany her stories are also excellent, being both simple and evocative.

--Patrick Samphire, 15th March 2005.

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