Tor.com, November 2014
Reviewed by Michelle Ristuccia
“Where the Lost Things Are” by Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson is an absurdist SF piece following a group of retirees who attempt to cross into an alternate dimension.
Flippant dialogue drives the comedic points home, with just enough pseudo science thrown in to help readers suspend their disbelief. A deceptively light-hearted tale about the marginalization of the elderly.
In “The Walk” by Dennis Etchison, a writer, producer, and their girlfriends scope out a potential filming location after nightfall. This horror piece misses the mark with its anti-climactic monsters and flat characterization.
“Where the Trains Turn” by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen is an exquisite SF novella of a mother’s determination to save her son from his obsessive anthropomorphism of trains, as told by Rupert’s mother, Emma Nightingale. As the complex narrative progresses, Emma’s understanding of trains–and time–breaks down under the pressure of peculiar evidence, much of it dredged from memories of her own childhood. Jääskeläinen’s artful descriptions utilize complex grammar, lending the story a classic feel appropriate to its highly educated narrator. An engaging opening leads through to expertly controlled exposition that turns the reader’s assumptions inside-out by the end. “Where the Trains Turn” is translated from Finnish by Liisa Rantalaiho and has won the Atorox Award for best Finnish science fiction or fantasy short story.
“Prompt. Professional. Pop!” by Walter Jon Williams is set in The Wild Cards universe, where an alien virus has created meta-humans like Pop Tart, who can teleport objects and people with a pop. All amoral Pop Tart really wants is to become a rich and famous actress, but that’s not going to happen if she is arrested for grand theft. Williams writes in a smooth, entertaining style that brings out the comedy of the situation and Pop Tart’s shallow personality. The characters are pithy and there is plenty of action in this novella.
Michelle Ristuccia enjoys slowing down time in the middle of the night to read and review speculative fiction, because sleeping offspring are the best inspiration and motivation. You can find out more about her other writing projects and geeky obsessions by visiting her blog.