I was excited to receive this short story to review this month. I had read some of Mr. Alimonos’ work before, but admittedly it was just in bits and pieces and I had never completed any of his full works. It was not because I didn’t appreciate his style or concept, it was because I wasn’t allowing myself time to read for pleasure. Well let me say this off the bat, that was a huge mistake on my part.
I have to say that the science fiction and fantasy genre has always been one of my favorite styles of writing. I enjoy the true escapism that the genre allows the reader when it is well thought out and written. The City of the Drowned is a perfect example of this. This piece opens with a prologue that gives us a look into the background of our female protagonist, Thelana. I had a bit of difficulty tying the prologue into the main story, trying to make a bridge where I am not sure there was one. Personally, I think the biggest take away here was the naturist philosophy that the Ilmar, Thelana’s race, held to; “They were Ilmar, after all, and a covered body was an awkward sight for them……Outsiders called them naked, but the word was meaningless to the Ilmar.”
“They were Ilmar, after all, and a covered body was an awkward sight for them……Outsiders called them naked, but the word was meaningless to the Ilmar.”
The nudity in the story is never treated as a shock value or a point that is shoved in your face like “HEY READER THESE PEOPLE ARE NAKED!!” I really appreciate this fact. Nudity is just treated as an everyday occurrence, as it should be. This is just who are hero (Xandr) and heroine are. Their nakedness only becomes an issue when they are dealing with people outside their realm. I find it terribly interesting that people that our leads encounter on their journey automatically assume that because they choose not to be clothed they are barbaric or simple. Mind you their thinking is quickly corrected by Thelana and Xandr both strong intelligent individuals in their own right but they don’t only resort to words to prove their point. They are strong, adept, fearless fighters letting their spirit and strength clothe them better than any garment ever could.
I had a minor problem trying to keep track of time in the story. There was so much action going on, then suddenly there were things that descriptively in the story stated happened over a great period of time but it was hard for me to grasp. There are several references to the passage of time as a “cycle” but since there is no reference point to pull that to, I just never got it. Was a cycle the period between new moons? I’m not sure. Also, I would have liked to have seen a little more clarity with relationship development between our leads. Having said that, it may just be that I am missing that character development as I have not read the other works in their entirety.
On our protagonists’ journey I found it extremely humorous that there is a city that a great deal of the story references is named “Hedonia,” and that it was rampant with greed, excess, fear of the naked body, such a strong counterpoint to the naturally nude of the Ilmar. Mr. Alimonos cleverly plays on words and descriptors to tie things into modern day society. In addition to the aforementioned city of Hedonia, watch for references to ‘publicans’ and how writers struggle with their craft. I love intelligent writing. I will say that the end of the story leaves us with a great explanation of social nudism that is relevant to our society today, and something that all of us can relate to as we have explained our lifestyle to others at some point.
This story takes us on an epic journey; from wastelands to bustling cities, finally to the drowned city referenced in the title. It is definitely action packed and in a way reminded me of the journeys of Sinbad. I will not give away most of what happens in the story, again, as this is a short story, giving away one plot line will tend to untangle the story and leave new readers disappointed that they would have figured out what was going on. What I will say, is that I was disappointed that the story ended when it did. It left me wanting more, which I believe is the sign of a great author. I look forward to reading more from Nick Alimonos and I hope you take the time to look him up and see for yourself!
Download the complete novella for free as a PDF: [The City of the Drowned]