Quick ‘n Dirty: Tamara Romero – Her Fingers

Quick ‘n Dirty is a term used for that first quick search you perform when starting a new research project. It doesn’t have to be exhaustive and all encompassing; it’s just an exploratory search to see what is out there and to collect more search terms before starting a true literature review. I thought it would be a good description for reviews of shorter works, such as short stories or novellas or for less comprehensive reviews of longer works. They may not be as in-depth as I usually try to write my reviews, but hopefully they’ll be a good introduction and indication whether you’d like the stories or books reviewed.

tamararomero-herfingersA red-haired witch with steel fingers, dragged unconscious from the currents of the Adrenaline River. An isolated researcher suffering from a disease called the Gag. Covens of stoned witches dancing to techno in the forest. A punk whose specialty is replacing body parts with metal replicas. Sleepwalkers who don’t want to wake. Trees hiding a filthy secret—the result of a perverse dictator’s mind. A pink spy-swan, monitoring every move. A lyrical, dark and charming bizarro story of intrigue and discovery from a dimension just beyond ours.

Her Fingers is a fascinating novella, which blends fantasy and science fiction in a way that, despite the added weirdness, works really well. Romero crams a lot to unpack into 60-odd pages, but I’m finding it hard to get an actual grip on what to talk about. There is the very creepy authoritarian government, which has institute substituted, legalised drug use to keep its populace from thinking to deeply about its actions and saddles everyone who does classified research with a minder to prevent them from selling their secrets in the form of a pink swan. Their citizens are required to have three names to use and they use different names in different settings of for different encounters. Beyond the continual drug use by almost everyone, people are getting bionic implants to get rid of all their mortal part and achieve a state of not needing to sleep, while on the other end of the spectrum there is a group called the Sleepwalkers, who do exactly that. Both of these groups and the Witches of Yimla are at the lower end of society, but only the Witches are actively persecuted by the government. This mysterious cult-like group is pegged for eradication by the country’s insane leader and one strike against them is the catalyst for this story. While we never really get a bead on who our protagonists are, Romero manages to give us enough character-building to empathise with them and get a sense of their motivations. All of this is written in a lyrical style that at times lends the story a fairy tale quality. Romero has a way with words and it’s even more amazing when you realise that she wrote the novella in Spanish originally and translated it into English herself.

With Her Fingers Tamara Romero gives us a lovely, intelligent story and quite an interesting read. I can only express admiration for Romero, who manages to express herself more eloquently in a second language, than I can in my mother tongue. If you are interested in branching out your reading from the usual fare or want to see what is going on in non-Anglophone SFF, then the weird and bizarro tale of Her Fingers comes highly recommended.

This book was provided for review by the author.