“Seems like the perfect time for higher powers to reawake.”
Black, Their Regalia, by Darcie Little Badger.
As a part of Lightspeed since 2012, Fantasy Magazine is the home of today’s short story. More specifically, you can find the story here, as a part of the December 2016 special issue. There’s also a podcast version you can download, if you’d prefer that, though I read this one, myself.
Black, Their Regalia is set on an Earth taken over by the Big Plague. There are so many infected, that those dying are put on trains and sent to facilities where doctors test and try to save them. The three main characters–Tulli, Moraine, and Kristi–are a young “neoclassical alt-metal fusion” band of Apache and Navajo descent. The band, Apparently Siblings, are all infected, but stick together through thick and thin and never let go of hope, though their beliefs waver.
This story, despite the fact that it’s about one of the most likely apocalyptic situations, is incredibly charming. The characters’ dynamic and dialogue is endearing and believable. In the short flashback of their first meeting, there’s a particular line, “However, they didn’t annoy each other too much, so friendship inevitably blossomed.” At least for me, this feels like an accurate statement of how friendships work. I also enjoyed the fact that the Apparently Siblings weren’t famous whatsoever, but still counted playing a handful of shows and having a certain number of twitter followers an achievement. It made me want to search them up on Twitter and follow them as well(Sadly, there’s not really an account for the band).
I also enjoyed the symbolism and the reference to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse(and subsequently Neil Gaiman’s and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens), which, though it certainly fit in the story, felt a bit strange combined with the Aboriginal myths and themes. I did enjoy that, for the most part, the story was centered around the band members’ ethnicity and identity. As I’ve mentioned before, I myself am of Ojibwe descent, and I personally think that these sort of stories are important to tell, fictional or otherwise.
I don’t want to give away too much about the ending, but I did love the importance of the dance and the characters’ talents as a band. I’ve always held to the belief that all art should connect, and that includes writing and music and dance.
For myself, this is a definite 5 out of 5. I absolutely loved it and think a lot of other readers will love it too, whether or not you have a similar personal attachment. It’s a great story about hope and love and humanity, as well as things that humanity can’t explain.
Dr. Darcie Little Badger has her own WordPress account here, including a bibliography of her other works here, which I can guarantee you that I’ll be looking through in the future. She’s also on Twitter at @ShiningComic.
Have you ever had a dream so strong you believed it was real, even if only for a moment?