Archives

Palimpsest by Charles Stross

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  5 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Palimpsest. Noun. a parchment or the like from which writing has been partially or completely erased to make room for another text. (link)

Stasis. Noun. a state or condition in which there is no action or progress. (link)

Agent Pierce is a member of Stasis, an organisation of time travellers who have tasked themselves with the preservation of humanity and the recording of humanity’s history. His initiation into Stasis was to murder his grandfather – effectively writing himself out of the history books. When he survives an ambush, he is contacted by a doctoral researcher he eventually marries. But things fall apart when he travels through time to the Final Library and finds no record of the time line in which he marries the researcher.

I really really enjoyed this story. It certainly was a great way to end off my travels through The Time Traveller’s Almanac. In Palimpsest Stross creates an explosive cocktail of some of the themes I love best from scifi: deep time, time travel and the time travel paradox. While this novella is somewhat complex, at the same time it’s relatively simple. I could definitely see scope for it being expanded considerably, but I also like that Stross leaves some of the story to my imagination to fill in.

Definitely a huge thumbs up to this story from this scifi fan.

Advertisements

If Ever I Should Leave You by Pamela Sargent

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

The narrator of this story remains nameless. Her husband is Yuri Malenkov, and when we meet them, Yuri is dying – having cheated death for around three hundred years – apparently that’s what people do. In the last six months Yuri has made many time travel trips, and he dies the night after he returns from his final trip.

The reason Yuri made those many trips was so his wife could travel to meet him again after he has left her. And eventually she does make use of the time slots he logged and visits with him as time passes.

It isn’t explained how people in this setting cheat death, but apparently they can rejuvenate – but only for so long. Then they age rather rapidly.

This was a really lovely, gentle story of timeless love, and I enjoyed it very much. And there’s a bit of a plot twist that just put the cherry on top of the cake.

Bad Timing by Molly Brown

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Alan Strong works in the Archives Department at the Colson Time Studies Institute some three hundred years in the future. One day, when he arrives at work, his friend Joe Twofingers draws his attention to a fiction story in a magazine from the 20th century called Woman’s Secrets. The story is about a man called Alan Strong from the 24th century who travels back in time because he sees a photo of a lady called Cecily Walker, falls in love with her. And apparently this man works at the Archives Department at the Colson Time Studies Institute…

What ensues is a humorous account of Alan’s attempt to find Cecily. Time travel gets tough when you don’t have all the instructions.

I enjoyed reading this story. Brown’s writing is vivid and concise, and the story tickles the time travel paradox nicely. Definitely a thumbs’ up from me.

Domine by Rjurik Davidson

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Marek, a musician and soundscaper, is excitedly anticipating the return of Dany, a crew member on the first close-to-light-speed space trip. But who is Dany, and what will happen?

This story had a distinctly “The Forever War” feel to it, but from the other side of the coin, so to speak. Fascinating, really, and somewhat disturbing too. I really enjoyed Davidson’s vision of the near future, of how the cities had evolved and/or degenerated, and his depiction of disconnect was excellent.

Red Letter Day by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Some time in the future, time travel has been discovered. However, fears of chaos ensuing from multiple potential timelines mean that the use of time travel is heavily regulated. Each person who reaches a certain age can send their teenage self one letter, to be received on Red Letter Day. However, not all receive letters.

A counsellor at the Barack Obama High School, who herself did not receive a letter as a teenager, is two weeks from turning fifty – and the day when she will finally send herself a letter. It’s Red Letter Day at the Barack Obama High School, and her task is to counsel those students who do not receive letters. There are three of them that day.

A very interesting twist on the time travel concept, and an exploration into the consequences of foreknowledge of the future. Very well written, and very much a current topic. I really enjoyed this story.