Swing Time by Carrie Vaughn

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

In this story we meet Madeline and Ned. They are at a ball, and dancing. And, as it turns out, both engaged in thievery. Or are they collectors? As we quickly learn, they are both able to travel through doors in time, and keep meeting up – much to Madeline’s annoyance.

What was intriguing about this story was the notion that to travel in time (cause doors to open) requires energy (ok, that’s not entirely exotic a concept), but that, in the cases of Ned and Madeline, they generate the required energy by dancing. Much like charging a battery, I guess.

This was a fun story to read, with a twist I didn’t quite see coming. Very inventive and well-written.

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Against the Lafayette Escadrille by Gene Wolfe

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I probably quite miss the point with this one. The narrator explains how he’s built a replica Fokker triplane, and has everything as authentic as possible, bar one element. He then describes a flight where he meets with a lady in a hot air balloon. The impression one gets is that while flying, he goes back in time, and that the balloonist is from the Confederate era, flying a balloon made of ladies’ silk dresses. Or is she just flying a replica, like he is?

Good descriptions and a solid read, this is more of a sketch than a story as such. But still interesting enough.

The House that made the Sixteen Loops of Time by Tamsyn Muir

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Dr. Rosamund Tilly lives at 14 Arden Lane, a house with issues. But not the kinds of issues you’re thinking of, I’m sure. This house is a magical house, and it has temper tantrums. If things aren’t going precisely as it desires, then, well, take your pick. Pretty much anything can happen, from creepers overgrowing to the dogs’ coats changing colour. Sounds like a recipe for driving any rational human being insane, right? Well, spare a thought for Rosamund – and her family.

So, one day the house isn’t happy, and comes up with a new scheme. Instead of changing anything, it just decides to put time on replay. For sixteen loops. And only Rosamund is aware of what’s going on.

This is quite a humorous story, really, and I lapped it up. The house’s antics are fascinating, and Rosamund’s patience with it is… admirable. Fortitude, really. An entertaining romp that left me with a smile on my face at the end.

Twenty-One, Counting Up by Harry Turtledove

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

In this partner story to “Forty, Counting Down”, one sees the events as they happen in the first story (with a few added elements) from the younger Justin Kloster’s point of view. Since it was a while since I’d read the first story, the finer details of the story were somewhat hazy. This meant that it wasn’t entirely boring “re-reading” the story, even if from a different perspective. In fact, one of the anomalies from the first story is in fact explained in this second story, rounding things off quite nicely in that regard.

What was fascinating to watch was how Justin, a happy-go-lucky young man meandering through life at a fast pace including a girlfriend, raving and generally living the good life, begins to realise that he can make something of himself if he’s a bit more responsible.

Loob by Bob Leman

Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Leman investigates temporal paradoxes and their consequences in this short story. In some nothing town the north-east US, a town that was once something, lives a man called Loob. Loob is the local town idiot. Abused at home, bullied, dumb (apart from being able to pronounce his name as Loob), he’s a rather sad, sympathetic character. But he’s a character with immense power. Somehow, he’s able to change the past.

The tale is told by a young man whose life is affected by a change Loob made to the past – and, by apparent circuitous reasoning – the young man believes that Loob can put things right again. Actually, not can, but will. One day.

This was quite an interesting character sketch – both of the young narrator and of Loob. Leman draws an excellent picture of both the former wealth of the town as well as its present decrepit, by-gone state, and does so unashamedly. Even as this story is somewhat brutal, it’s very well-drawn and a good read.