It was a fight, and I was in it to the finish.
“Death Must Die,” by Albert E. Cowdrey, packs a lot of punch and richness into a brief space. It is framed as a reprint, which adds depth, as does including narrative, interview, and an editor’s note.
The textual richness enlivens a humorous and touching story about spirits and the things that draw them back from the hereafter. Much of the humor comes from the well-realized characters confronting the idea of real ghosts, and from the hangups and obsessions of the ghosts themselves.
There is something historical in the story as well, some interesting perspective on the way the past holds on to the present. The question of how to confront and transcend the past, whether in personal or political terms, is a constant theme in life. This story’s climactic battle could be read as one way to reconsider history.
The ending, which I will not spoil, is surprisingly touching as well.
“Death Must Die” appeared in the November/December 2010 Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction