Our second Rerun has been suggested by another wonderful, supportive, regular contributor – Leila Allison. Here is what she had to say:
At the surface Ashlie Allen and David Henson seem an unlikely pair. Other than existing concurrently in the Earth and both continuing to successfully convert oxygen to carbon dioxide for the benefit of plants (perhaps for even the strange flora that grow profusely in Ms. Allen’s imagination), they seem to have little in common. As writers, however, their divergent styles are well met at what I call Special Reality, which is the subconsciousness of General Reality.
General Reality, of course, is “hard reality,” in which there’s up and down, watch out for the dogshit, don’t cross the street in front of a moving bus, consequences for the misunderstanding or misuse of the preceding items, and is located in a Universe where all the people I find sexually attractive “love me like a sister.” Special Reality is singular. It is the conversion of General Reality into a certain mindset experienced only by one person.
Henson’s Real Bad Snowman illustrates the common-most form of the development of Special Reality in the mind. Special Reality is what children experience. In his story Henson masterfully shows how children in “the back seat” are affected by the degrading and foul circumstances forced upon them by the adults in the front seat. Here, I require you that read the damn thing; when you do, look out for both physical and symbolic trash being tossed from the front to the back seat. Most likely the conversion of the substandard General Reality forced upon Janey and her sister by their mother and “Jack” into Special Reality will write yet another self-fulfilling prophecy, by and by. But Janey has humor. She might be saved.
Allen’s Facing a Garden Full of Faces too deals with corrupting external-internal influences on a pliable mind. But here the relationship between General and Special Reality has been inverted. Ambiguity, in my mind, here, is deliberate. Are the Dracula orchids and coxcombs and the lonely rose actually speaking to the gardener (whose specific gender is never defined. Just “young” and alive), or is this imagined? There is one brief mention of feeling silly about talking to plants. It doesn’t matter, for in the end, the gardener is double-used by the lone rose and his or her older lover.
These two stories meet at the corruption of youth. Yet one may infer that there’s hope for Janey and Carol in the less dreamy piece, while within the fantastic the fate of the gardener is as certain as his or her grave and the type of sensual service that he or she will perform for the older daemon lover at night.
To slightly paraphrase what I said before, just read the damn things. You’ll see.