Paul Park. Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance (The Parke Family Scrapbook Number IV). (F&SF Jan/Feb 2010).

A complex, substantial novella from Park, of the type that F&SF has done well over the years. It’s a tale within a tale, a fiction within a fiction, part-family history.

The narrator relates his family history from both lines, going back several generations, utilising extracts from other publications, military tribunals, and novels written by his forebears. An unreliable narrator, we follow his imagined relationships, and those relationships that take place in the online world of Second Life, as all this is seen through the magnifying lens of his own life. In addition to the richly created backgrounds to his forebears and
their history, there is the repeated occurrence of children born with cauls (of which he was one). And as he probes deeper, the repeated occurrence of strange visitations, and his family’s role in rebutted those who would seek to enter our world, is clarified.

To add further depth, the near-future USA has suffered, politically and environmentally. The story draws to a dramatic conclusion as the narrator finds himself inexorably, albeit unwittingly, eventually called to take up his place in the historic stand.

It’s a story that requires, and rewards, the reader’s close attention.

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