Source: Own Collection
Rating: 4 Stars
I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.
This story has left my mind numb. Haunted.
Oliver, a home owner in an unnamed city, is seeing new tenants into his house as the story begins. Their strangeness of manner and speech is immediately noticeable, but the characters explain it away as a simple difference in custom/culture. The tenants have booked the house for the month of May, and ideally want Oliver out of the house, but he chooses to remain. It soon becomes apparent that the house is extremely sought after, with Oliver and his fiancée Sue receiving purchase offers far above the house’s value.
This story is an interesting exploration of time travel from the perspective of one who meets time travellers. In particular, it discusses the view that one should not change events in the past as any changes will affect the future. We find that the “foreigners” (time travellers) are a selfish bunch who would rather maintain their way of life, and they therefore travel to observe the past purely for pleasure – even as they acquire ringside seats to the destruction of many lives in the past, as they do in this story.
I did enjoy this story. The characterisations are compelling and interesting. The novelty is definitely the time travellers. Oliver and Sue are almost cardboard characters, drab and uninteresting, while the visitors are vibrant, gay, light-hearted and frivolous. But that’s probably at least half the point. The frivolous taking such a steeped interest in the supposedly mundane (until destruction arrives, that is). That said, I personally wouldn’t place this amongst the greatest time travel or science fiction stories I’ve read. But an excellent read and one I don’t regret.