Universe Annex #1 — July 2010

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Universe Annex #1
July 2010

{Editor’s note: The replacement for the now defunct Jim Baen’s Universe, Universe Annex publishes one story every other month, now as part of editor Eric Flint’s Grantville Gazette, and can be found here.}

“Summerland Rentals” by R. J. Ortega

Reviewed by Duane Donald

R. J. Ortega really lays out a fantastic story with “Summer Rentals,” a nice feather in the cap for Universe Annex’s inaugural edition.

Kirby Foster finds he is no longer in Kansas when he meets a man named Mr. Janus (as in the Roman god of doorways) in the afterlife.

Ortega moves the reader through his interpretation of the afterlife, a playful mix of Roman and Buddhist philosophies, while we watch the protagonist, Kirby Foster, end up in an afterlife village called Summertown. It’s a place where the weather is always great and whatever or whoever you think of comes to fruition.

The story follows the various levels of Kirby Foster’s afterlife all the way from inception to reincarnation and the way this character experiences these stages transfers nicely to the reader.

“Summer Rentals” is not a philosophical revelation, but is a very well written story with tangible characterizations, great, believable conversations, and intricate settings. The tale requires no particular belief system to enjoy, only a mind open to a  touching, comfortable story with a bit of fun mixed in to keep it lively.