Tag Archive | Short Story

The Great Clock by Langdon Jones

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

This is a fantastic story. I have to say I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu that told me I’d read the story before, although for the life of me I have no idea where I could have picked it up.

In this story the reader meets a man who maintains a clock. But this is no ordinary clock. This clock is seriously massive, and maintaining it is a full time occupation.

Seriously, WOW. Yes, it’s perhaps a bit languorous, a bit blow-by-blow account, but at the same time it’s visceral, gritty and edgy. And the closing paragraphs just blow one’s mind.

Excellent science fiction fare with a few twists included.

Lost Continent by Greg Egan

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

The story starts with Ali in Khurosan, which I understand to be in the Pakistan region. Khurosan appears to be a target for tyrants from the future to provide arms to warring factions within the country, fuelling inherent conflict in the region – perhaps taking advantage of existing animosities. At the time the story begins, the Scholars have taken over, and they were meant to be bringing peace to the region. But where people had previously worked to keep their young men and boys safe from recruitment, whether Sunni or Shi’a, the Scholars exploit the differences between the two groups and revive old animosities.

When the story begins, Ali is given by his uncle to a man with a Land Cruiser who promises a better life for him in the future; essentially, a paid smuggler. They travel for three days in the Land Cruiser, and then they reach a bridge – a whirlwind time vortex that enables travel to any and every time and place, by the sounds of things. The man finally selects a path through the bridge, and Ali lands up in, I’m assuming, Australia.

What then ensues is a stark parallel to the treatment of illegal immigrants around the world. Essentially arrested, placed in camps indefinitely and having their stories disbelieved… Sound familiar? With the added twist of time travel and parallel realities, so that the future Ali lands in is not *his* future, which means that his past is not the past of the present, which makes it easier for his story to be disbelieved. Not very complimentary of the Australian government – not sure if that was the point, but that would have been bound to come out of such a story.

Excellent story, and good insight into the plight of illegal immigrants around the world – especially those fleeing conflicts at home.

 

The Mouse Ran Down by Adrian Tchaikovsky

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Some time after the end of time, human refugees from the end of time hide out in time fragments, shifting from fragment to fragment in a bid to survive. But there’s a catch. They’re losing fragments, as an enemy is shutting them down one by one.

The story opens on a band of refugee humans hiding in 1500s London. Their time there has come to an end, though, and it’s time to move on – to Babylon. Only to discover that the enemy has shut that fragment down, and so they must move on again, to a 1943 Warsaw ghetto. Things start closing down, and the narrator is sent off in search of Doctor Comoy, who is allegedly attempting to fix time.

What a fun story. Serious, really, considering it’s about the time beyond the end of time, and deteriorating time at that, but fun nevertheless. I enjoyed some of Tchaikovsky’s descriptions of the time fragmentation and how things had got into the state they were, and the imagery of how people lived through these fragments of time and moved around between the fragments like they’re little islands on a sea.

A very enjoyable, although perhaps poignant, story.

Life Trap by Barrington J Bayley

18586183Source: Own collection
Format: Hardback
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

Here we meet Clinias and Marcus, two incumbents at the Temple of Mysteries. At this temple, they pursue life’s secrets. And once they ask a question and obtain an answer, they must share that knowledge. And so  here we have it. And what is the question? What happens after death?

So at midnight one night, Marcus is left in the inner sanctum along with a nostrum in a crucible over a small brazier, and his friend Clinias departs. Fearing that he’ll never see his friend Marcus again. An hour later, Marcus returns hale and hearty from his trip beyond death and back again – but no, he isn’t very hearty, not really. What he learns in the place beyond death… <spoilers>

I really liked this story. It isn’t science fiction – more mystical/fantastical, with lotions and potions, crucibles, braziers and temples. But in terms of time travel? It’s definitely that. And its situation in the “Mazes and Traps” section of The Time Traveller’s Almanac is definitely apt. Bayley’s clear writing pulled me into the story, and the implications of Marcus’ discoveries from beyond death weren’t lost on me.

Escape by JT Lawrence

Escape

Source: Own collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

An amusing, dark-edged story about a suicidal baby who knows he was born into the wrong life, and has to get creative to take measures correct the mistake, much to his mother’s horror.

As one can expect from Lawrence, you aren’t going to get an ordinary story. And this short is no exception!

I have absolutely no idea how to categorise this story on my bookshelves. It’s rather confusing. Could one call a story written in first person from the perspective of a suicidal toddler noir? I’m not so sure. But I have nowhere else to put it.

Clever and imaginative, Lawrence raises enough questions in the first few paragraphs to keep one reading. As one reads, one figures out exactly what is going on – but the ending comes as a complete surprise. Just as a short story should be written.