I’ve enjoyed Jean Gill’s well researched and beautifully written historical fiction series; Song at Dawn, Bladesong, and Plaint for Provence. Her short story for Twisted Tales is very different from these books. The 13th Sign is a fantasy/science fiction story about the creation or addition of a new zodiac sign, Ophiuchus.
Gill gives voice to the zodiac signs and the story is an amusing examination of whether or not Ophiuchus should be granted a place in the zodiac. After waiting several centuries for a good opportunity he finally makes his move by forcing a “Board Meeting”. The novel idea of zodiac signs having voices, opinions, and the ability to decide if the snake bearing man should be permitted to take his place as the thirteenth zodiac sign is delicious.
It is apparent that Gill has once again applied her excellent research skills in creating her characters. With phrases like “Ophiuchus had exposed himself as a flasher to innumerable astronomers” she links real science with the fantasy of a constellation that is sentient.
I was particularly attracted to the voice and personality of Virgo who is portrayed as quite sexy and sensual. The response of the other constellations to her “sort of husky voice” is hilarious. Aries bleats “elongated vowel sounds when stressed”, Sagittarius pulls “an arrow out of his quiver”, and Taurus bellows. These descriptions fall in line with the astrological descriptions of the zodiac signs so well it is easy to visualize them as living and breathing beings.
It is no easy feat to give personality to stars; to imbue constellations with a viable humanity, but Jean Gill accomplishes it with humor and style. This story adds a level of wit to the anthology that is an unexpected surprise.
I can only hope that those born between November 30th and December 17th will warmly welcome this thirteenth sign of the zodiac and Sagittarius and Capricorn will kindly make room for him in their midst. After all, Ophiuchus has waited a long time to become recognized once again, even if he is visible in the northern hemisphere only in the summer months. Even a flasher deserves some respect