SCI FICTION, December 7, 2005

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"The King of Where-I-Go" by Howard Waldrop

In "The King of Where-I-Go" by Howard Waldrop, a nostalgic tale of childhood regret and time travel, we see the world through the eyes of Franklin—Bubba to his family—and his younger sister, Ethel, as they are shuttled back and forth between Texas and Alabama by their parents during the fifties. Ethel contracts polio, which Bubba blames himself for because he hit her in the kneecap with a croquet ball during an argument. But all is soon forgiven as Ethel recovers and the two grow up. Ethel goes to a mysterious research facility investigating psychic powers, and somehow mentally shunts her brother through time on two different occasions. While there, he relives a few precious childhood memories and comes back to the present to find that Ethel never had polio, and is no longer at the research facility, though I could never figure out what Bubba changed to keep her from getting polio.

All in all, this is a nice, quiet, little nostalgia piece, but it didn’t exactly blow me away. Still, it’s nice to know that if someone else could time travel, they too would go back and buy Action Comics #1, even if that someone is fictional.