Reading Michael Swanwick tends to remind me that I should read him more often, and that’s what happened with this story.
‘Goblin Lake’ has the atmosphere and style of a folktale, but with a metafictional twist. During the Thirty Years’ War, a soldier named (of course) Jack is, for a prank, thrown into a lake whose waters are said to change anything they touch. Beneath the surface, Jack finds a whole other world where time passes rather differently, falls in love with the king of the lake’s daughter, and so on.
Except it’s not ‘and so on’, because the world is not as Jack thinks, and he has a decision to make. This is a beautifully told tale, which engenders a frisson of that true fantasy feeling towards the end as one allows oneself to consider, just briefly, what it might mean if the story were true. Yes, I must read more Swanwick…
Michael Swanwick’s blog