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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Strange Horizons -- August 12, 2019

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Strange Horizons, August 12, 2019

Someday We’ll Embrace This Distance” by Niyah Morris

Reviewed by Jody Dorsett

Jenny is a young woman living alone. Suddenly a person from her future shows up. Ria, her future partner, has found a way to use her mind to travel to the past and does so to meet her future partner long before they ever really met. There’s a question of “if you could travel to the past to meet the younger person you would partner with, would you?” There is a reason that Ria is folding time to meet Jenny.

There’s good writing and there’s good storytelling. Often the two aren’t the same. Or, maybe, there’s more of one than there is of another. This is well written. It is, in many ways, haunting. There is good story telling, but in the end, there is an ambiguous ending. I see this trend in SF/F writing more frequently; you can’t be a good writer and pull this off without disappointing the reader. It’s a cheap trick only pulled off by not great writers, but master class writers. I’m pretty sure why Ria went back in time to visit Jenny....but not 100%. This is an editorial failure; I would have requested more foreshadowing (carefully done) so at the end the reader is satisfied instead of left wondering. Stories that are good have endings.
An example of master class ambiguous endings is Blade Runner after the absolutely remarkable performance of the late Rutger Hauer. We don’t know how the problem with the replicants ends, exactly. We don’t have to know what happens to Deckard and Rachel. They leave together. Will Rachel also have the Methuselah Syndrome? We don’t have to know because the plot, the essence of the real tale here, is finding happiness. As the car leaves they are together. Is Deckard a replicant? Again, is Rachel doomed by the Methuselah Syndrome? It doesn’t matter, what does matter is that the replicant being hunted has the humanity to save Deckard, and Rachel and Deckard find happiness. That’s the point. How the rest plays out is just fun for the viewer. “Who knows how long we’ll be together...who does?”