Short Story Review: CALIGO LANE, by Ellen Klages

My search for interesting short stories (and a quick sample of authors who are new to me) continues…  I have recently discovered the dedicated section over at Tor com, and found many interesting offerings.  This week’s choice is for:


This is an exquisitely crafted story, one that revolves more around moods and perceptions than anything else and for this very reason is almost impossible to describe.  Set in San Francisco, it starts by depicting the way that the fog seems to alter geographical landmarks, and in so doing it defines the overall tone of the story itself.

In Caligo Lane there is a peculiar house where an equally peculiar woman, Franny, lives: she’s a cartographer, but a very special one, because her maps have the power to fold space, changing the shape of the world. Franny learned this secret from a Japanese master of origami, the art of folding paper into any desired shape: when fused with some magic, this art can transform a map into “a menu of possible paths”.

When Franny receives a postcard containing only geographical coordinates, she sets to work on a new map, the urgency in her actions tempered by the need – stressed several times – for detail and precision: even the most minuscule error might lead to failure.  Observing her work is a fascinatingly harrowing experience, the painstaking process always hanging under a cloud of apprehension, since the reader has no idea of her ultimate goal, but is nonetheless aware of the constraints of time.

The resolution, once it comes, is as melancholy as it is indefinite, like something viewed through fog, but it carries a huge emotional impact.  A story to be savored, its very haziness being its best feature.

My Rating:

8 thoughts on “Short Story Review: CALIGO LANE, by Ellen Klages

  1. I LOVE stories about maps and cartography! There is just something magical to me about the making of maps and I’m one of those readers who will take the time to admire and pore the maps at the beginning of fantasy novels before reading in earnest. The origami map concept in this story sounds amazing, by the way! Wonder if the author ever considered writing a full novel based around it. It honest sounds like something straight out of a Sanderson magic system.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting that you mention the possibility of a longer story – even a novel – because I had the definite impression of a much wider, deeper tale hiding between the lines, and would have loved to know more. The creation of the map itself has the flavor of quite an adventure as well 🙂


  2. The premise sounds so Brandon Sanderson-esque 🤓 And I loooove a good atmospheric tale. I’ll definitely have to check this out. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    Liked by 1 person

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