SH Flashback: “Start with Color,” by Bill Kte’pi

Here's the next Strange Horizons Flashback story:

Start with Color,” by Bill Kte'pi
In a world where everyone's dreams come alive, a strong dreamer tells his family that he's finally being allowed to retire. Lovely and sad. (Published in 2003.) (3,500 words.)

Her dreams have been lazing at her elbows, small white elephants and green giraffes, grazing from invisible trees. They move aside, harrumphing at her as the paper interrupts their breakfast.

(See also the full list of Flashback stories.)




I've seen other stories with this kind of twist ending, of course. (I want to name some of them, but I don't want to spoil their endings, in case you haven't read them.) But I thought this rendition of that trope was particularly well done and particularly sad. The hints are nicely layered throughout the story, subtly enough that I don't think I saw where it was headed when I first read it.

I also like the worldbuilding. And the prose. And the nice small details of the characterization, like the kid creating one giant-sized pancake. And the fact that the thing the protagonist has been working toward (fixing the living-dream problem) is also the thing that takes away his reconstructed family.

This is the second of the two stories of Bill's that were set in that dreams-come-alive future; the first was “The Minotaur,” which we published in 2002. I don't know if he wrote others; if so, I don't think I saw them. The two stories aren't closely connected, I don't think, just set in the same world.

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