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I’m personally not too familiar with the works of Gardiner Dozois. He passed away not too long ago and Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine decided to send him off with one of the last stories he submitted to the magazine back in 2018. So what better way than to give this story a go.
Today, we’re going over Homecoming by Gardiner Dozois. You can buy an issue here. This is on the shorter end and good thing too. I haven’t posted a Fiction Friday in a while and this story is deep and perplexing, talking about death and its impact of life. Ironic that this posthumous author’s most recent story discusses a rather fitting message about passing on.
So let’s see what this tale holds for us.
Homecoming, by Gardnier Dozois
The story follows an old wizard, or so people say, who decides to rent a room at an inn. However, he grows older and his time is nigh. The innkeeper’s daughter hopes the wizard can heal his father, but the young girl instead gains a lesson of a lifetime.
This is one of the most philosophical stories I’ve read and very well executed. It expects you to go in one direction, but then last minute goes into a wholly different take. It’s brilliant if anything.
I would have to spoil the ending for a moment, but the ending references how things inevitably pass on, and the power of death must take its course. The innkeeper’s daughter wants her grandfather to live and be cured of his sickness, but as the wizard gives his speech, basically his time was now, it becomes a powerful, if sad message.
Death is inevitable. We can do all we can to reverse it, but there’s no stopping the natural flow of a lifespan. My cat, Boo, whose pictures I often posted on Twitter and Instagram, was almost 20 when she died a few months ago. Despite numerous trips to the vet, she persevered even in her final days. About three years ago, the vet said she wouldn’t last for a couple of months. Not only did she outlive that, she did it while her kidneys were failing. Somehow, her dedication to me, to the family, kept her going. Inevitably, she left this world, but not without being there for me despite her illness.
This story reminded me of that, and it was something I needed. Death happens and sometimes, we cannot stop it, as much as we need to keep things moving. It’s painful, it’s traumatizing, and it’s even unfair to see someone you love go into the afterlife or even a place like heaven. Sometimes, we have to say goodbye, even when we don’t want to. Sometimes, we have to accept the inevitable, even if it tears us apart.
The storyline expects you to follow a simple story. A wizard enters an inn. Sure, it’s typical and common. It could have been rejected had the author not passed on. But the longer it goes on, the more interesting it gets, with the wizard fighting a group of bandits attempting to rob him. I guess its only issue in this case was how basic it was. The twist, however, was bold. The wizard explains to the innkeeper’s daughter that her grandfather is ready to pass on. He has no magical talent to speak of, and cannot do anything as he himself passes on.
It provides a deep message about moving on, accepting fate, and knowing that sometimes, it’s impossible to control the inevitable. Sometimes, we have to accept things for what they are. It’s not a super long story and it can feel super quick, but this has a strong message about inevitability. If you feel lost, especially after losing someone you loved. I’d recommend reading this. Again, the irony of the message from someone who had also passed on, I can’t help but feel that the final lines were perhaps a parting message from Mr. Dozois himself.
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.