By in Sci Fi & Paranormal

Science Fiction Short Story Review: "The Year of the Big Thaw" by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Reverend Doane is perplexed by Matthew Emmett’s scholarship application. Everyone knows that Mr. Emmett and his wife Martha are the boy’s parents, yet Emmett has written on the application that the boy’s birthplace is “unknown.” If the boy is his son, the reverend figures he ought to know where the boy was born. He asks Emmett to clarify.

“Rev’rend Doane, it’s tarnal funny yarn but I’ll walk into the meetin’ house and swear on a stack of Bibles as thick as a cord of wood,” Emmett replies. “…You call to mind the year we that big thaw, about twelve years before the war? You mind the blizzard that year?”

Seems more than debris came down with the thaw, and from farther away than merely upstream. This is not a new story, and it’s told in dialect through an innocent, honest Yankee who made a promise to a dying stranger and has raised the stranger’s infant as best he could. It is amusing and sad, describing a world that doesn’t exist anymore and maybe never did. A nice, short read.

Author Marion Zimmer Bradley was, among other things, one of the founding members of the Society for Creative Anachronism. She also was known as a feminist and edited magazines that encouraged new writers, particularly new female writers. Her memory is marred, however, by allegations of severe child abuse made by her daughter, Moira Greyland. I’ve written about this sad topic here .


Title: “Year of the Big Thaw” first published in Fantastic Universe May 1954

Author: Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930-1999)






©2015 Denise Longrie

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MegL wrote on June 11, 2015, 9:39 AM

I used to love reading Marion Zimmer Bradley's books.

msiduri wrote on June 11, 2015, 10:09 AM

So did I. I loved her Darkover novels back in the day.

MegL wrote on June 11, 2015, 12:47 PM

Yes, really interesting and some great ideas but the complaints on cruelty have turned me off her.

msiduri wrote on June 11, 2015, 2:48 PM

Yes, as they have for me.