"Vu" by Karen M. Roberts
"Nine Lives" by Becca De La Rosa
"Disjointed" by January Mortimer
"Vu" by Karen M. Roberts is about writers and their characters. Sylvia and Michael are sitting in a café discussing Sylvia’s latest story and the odd feeling she has of having written it before. The story alternates between several points of view, mostly writers, several of whom turn out to be writing about some of the other characters.
This is clearly a metafiction story: a story about the act of writing and the infinite possibilities it opens up. In practice, though, I found it disjointed and confusing to follow. The plethora of characters crammed in so short a space, and the multitude of possibilities they discuss, makes for hard reading, overall. I had to backtrack several times to check who was who. In the end, I found the story amusing, but it did not have much impact on me.
Next, under Ideomancer‘s Slipstream section, is "Nine Lives" by Becca De La Rosa. Jamie, the narrator, meets Lenore on a night train—the only place where the two ever meet and interact. Lenore is married, and Jamie is reluctant to take their relationship further. As time passes, Lenore acquires tattoos of seas, and soon she becomes a kaleidoscope of the world’s oceans.
"Nine Lives" is quiet and engaging. The seas seemed a forced symbol at first, but as the story progressed, they took on a more forceful significance such that by the end, they were totally justified. The narrator and Lenore are both sympathetic characters, and De La Rosa pictures their half-relationship in deft touches as she recounts the narrator’s intriguing and surreal family history.
Closing the issue is January Mortimer‘s "Disjointed." Jessie and Stan are ON: logged in at the same time onto a hundred game and news servers while also living in the real world, enjoying life to the fullest. "Why only live once?" Jessie asks, a question that has become the motto for their generation. But everything has a price, and the price for Massive Multi-Tasking is that the brain truly becomes disconnected from the world: disjointed. And that is what happens to Stan.
Given the surge of interest for Massive Online Multiplayer Games such as World of Warcraft and for virtual universes like Second Life, this is a timely piece. It is not impossible—it’s even probable—that most of us will be doing several things at the same time, flicking between Internet channels. It’s altogether possible that there will be a price to pay. One of the story’s strengths, in the tradition of the best SF, is it is both a plausible extrapolation and a cautionary vision of the future. The other strength is the characters, who even in such a short space came alive for me. Recommended.