Tag Archive | 3 stars

In the Tube by EF Benson

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

In this story, the narrator is visiting an Anthony Carling. After dinner, all the other guests leave, and the narrator remains as an overnight guest. Anthony is quite a philosophical character, and the discussion turns to time and eternity, how time is an invention, whereas eternity is outside of time. Then Carling goes on to describe some events he’s experienced that he believes prove that eternity does not follow the same conventions as time.

I felt it a bit of a stretch to include this story in a book about time travel, but there you go, that decision was not mine. As a story, yes. I quite enjoyed it. Pretty much a narration of supernatural events is my assessment – some events of which had not occurred at the time they were witnessed by Carling. So he saw a foreshadow of them, basically. Or precogged them. The story is well-written and easily accessible.

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Time Telephone by Adam Roberts

Format: Hardcover
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This was a bit of a weird story. So, by diverting calls around the worldwide telephone network in a certain way, people figured out how to send the telephone calls into the past. One could even make a telephone call into the future (so I guess they figured out how to do that too).

I found this story incomplete. Sure, it ended abruptly, but that wasn’t the problem. Or was it? I didn’t feel the premise was really set up well enough for the ending it got. But I guess there would be no explanation, really.

An interesting concept, but I would have liked there to be a bit more to it.

The Mask of the Rex by Richard Bowes

This story is set on the Maine coastline on a fictional island called Mount Airey Island, home to some of the richest in American society. The story is about Julia Garde Macauley, whose ancestral home on the island is called Joyous Garde, but really focuses on her family’s inherited relationship with the Rex, a sortof keeper who maintains portals – one of which is located on the island. The Rex befriends a member of the family, and when a new Rex takes over (having killed the previous one), the child of the next generation is introduced to the Rex. In a way, there’s one Rex for each generation of the family.

A bit of a strange story, this. I enjoyed the setting, which was well-described by Bowes. He also gave a good idea of society on the island and how it changed over time – from men bathing alone (and naked) from a cove at the tip of the island while the women gossiped, to both genders bathing (clothed) together in the same cove. Little touches like that really rounded the story out.

The family’s relationship with the Rex(s) was depicted in lovely detail. There were links to the Roman gods, but for me this more confused than explained anything. That the Rex worked for the Roman gods, that much was clear, and that a new Rex would murder the previous incumbent of the position, that too was clear. Also clear was that the portals were gradually being closed down. I didn’t understand Tim’s role, nor really the family’s role in general, apart from their being a companion to each Rex – and getting, in return, some foreknowledge of the future.

If you’re looking for a time travel story, then this is not a good place to look, but as an interesting story with portals into different times, then it isn’t a bad tale at all. Quite intriguing.

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.

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.