Now this was a pretty good round of stories.

Where Shadows go at Low Midnight by John Grant

This is a very… mediocre story. That’s not a mark against it – at least it wasn’t brain numbingly horrible – I just forgot about it until I consulted my notes. The story is written as a sort of metaphysical discussion of a world not quite our own (or is it?). All in all, a pretty cute, warm little tale that’s good for a few minutes of escape. I’d definitely give it a plus.

Lineage by Kenneth Schneyer

How does one define perfection? I usually say, it is something to which the slightest change results in ruin. “Lineage” is a perfect short story; one of the very few that I’ve read and I have a subscription to a magazine of short stories. Is it the best? No (there are some that are better) but it is one that utilizes and realizes the form of the short story. To add or take away anything would ruin it.

This is a story that also serves as an excellent demonstration of how to do things right. The story is mysterious and “unknown” but not confusing. Take note authors: you don’t have to spell everything out but you do need to at least hint that answers are out there. Really well done. A big plus and recommendation to anyone who wants to master the short story medium.

Murder in Metachronopolis by John C. Wright

Full Disclosure: I am a frequent reader of Mr Wright’s blog and have even corresponded with him a few times. This is also one of the longest stories in the collection.

The Man Who Folded Himself is a novel that plays out the full logical consequences of ‘flexible’ time travel. It’s a bit of a head trip and a must read if you enjoy time travel tales.

MiM can be described as parable proving time travel impossible and morally wrong. This is the first I’ve seen of a tale discussing the morality of time travel and for this, the story belongs with the aforementioned novel as a must read for time travel fans. The murder mystery proper is actually just a plot device, the central premise and drive being something different. The destination is predictable but Mr Wright seems to be counting on that, using the reader’s expectation to make the story’s journey quite fascinating.

This isn’t to say that the story is flawless. A couple of times John gets a little too enthusiastic in describing the details of the sci fi tech and world he’s painted. Of course the explanations are welcome but with a short story, space is precious. How something works isn’t as important in this format than what something does and any rules involving it. At least he does have a good sense of timing and never lets his explanations disrupt the story’s rhythm. I’d actually encourage John to expand the story into a thin novel (not a brick or airport book size) where he can really drown the reader in details and take us to that world.

In earlier reviews I mentioned that I felt I lacked the cultural comprehension to fully appreciate some stories. MiM is a story deeply steeped in classical Western culture. I couldn’t help but chuckle on almost every page at all the nods and references he’s hidden. But if you’re not very aware of Western tradition, you might enjoy this story as well – though it is still quite accessible for nearly everyone.

A big, big plus.

Finally, there’s an interesting note I must reproduce from the semi-appendix.

“Metachronopolis” shares some elements of setting with John’s story in the first Clockwork Phoenix volume, “Choosers of the Slain,” making it the first tale in our pages to expand on a previously introduced multiverse.

So if you enjoy this story well enough (and you should), you’ll now be sorely tempted to pick up the first Clockwork Phoenix. Well played Mike Allen. Well… played.

Get these collections here.

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Comment

  1. fffan on 23 June 2010, 01:32 said:

    Nice reviews.

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