People Read Old SFF has circled back to a modern work for the final
time in the phase of the project. This time the modern author is
Ursula Vernon, who also publishes as T. Kingfisher. To quote her
read a number of Vernon’s works but not, as it happens, any of
those. I have read "Toad Words", however, and it seemed an apt choice
for a modern work given what the Young People have liked in the past.
But I’ve been wrong before...
like fairy tales. Old ones and new ones. They make very good
skeletons for stories, and being centuries old there is rarely a
problem with copyright. I also thoroughly enjoyed Digger. I read
through it in a night and a day several years ago. Combining these
two, I really enjoyed Toad Words. The story evokes a feeling that I
can't quite pin down. Not all the stories I've read for this project
have evoked, somewhat less than half have. Evocation is not a skill
every author has.
wonder about how possible it is to keep a species alive by creating a
few dozen per day. But then cane toads seem to provide a
counterexample. I also wonder if the narrator spits out only
surviving species or if certain words would cause a long-extinct frog
from the Cretaceous to pop out.
worth the read.
loved this story. I generally like fairy tale retellings, and I
really like the idea of taking this one and looking at the
practicalities of living with the curse and the “blessing.” I
enjoyed the explanations of learning how different words produce
different toads and frogs, and that the reason the narrator learned
this was to not kill the frogs by sending them into environments they
couldn’t live. I like that their practice with this helped them
develop enough skill to made it possible for them to help with
conservation efforts. I also liked that this was never expected to be
a solution. That it acknowledged that environmental problems are
complex and this doesn’t tackle the roots of the issues, just slows
down the decline.I like that this reimagining of the fairy tale
doesn’t have the siblings against each other, or make one good and
one bad, like other versions of this story I’ve heard. That the
frogs aren’t a sign of a moral failing, just something that
happened. They have to live with it, and have come up with coping
mechanisms and ways to use it to help.
had toad words I would hope that at least one of them would be the
Desert Rain Frog. You know, the little screaming one from the meme.
Anyway, Kingfisher's story is a delightful exploration of synesthesia
made physical, and I love the way she twisted the traditional fairy
tale frog prince narrative to become something entirely different and
altogether more meaningful. I also think this is just the sort of
beautifully succinct short story that many authors dream about
writing. Nothing more and nothing less is needed here.
was pleasantly surprised to read this story. I liked the casual,
contemporary writing style. The ideas and words are relatively basic
- nothing unusual or made up - but they hint at more complicated
ideas that could easily lead to a fantasy world with new in-world
words and ideas.It seems very contemporary with the extinction of
animals and especially of frogs. It fulfills a modern human wish of
wanting to simply solve complex problems that we have created like
the destruction of the natural world. But even simple wishes are
complicated.This story does a great job at ‘less is more’. A
thumbs-up. I could read a few more like this.