SCI FICTION, July 22, 2005

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"Gauging Moonlight" by E. Catherine Tobler

In this first-person narrative, E. Catherine Tobler looks through the eyes of a time-traveling alien as he moves in and out of the life of a human woman named Alice Oxbridge. The alien, forbidden to interfere in human affairs, has fallen in love with Alice, and fixates on her life, witnessing her birth multiple times, saving her life and erasing from existence a particularly troublesome lover who broke her heart.

There’s fine writing here, and Tobler does a great job of establishing mood and setting with subtle yet evocative language. The time traveler, whom Alice knows as Edward, is touching and sympathetic, even though he admits to doing some awful things in order to protect Alice. The ending is somber yet satisfying and, even for a time traveler, utterly final. This isn’t your typical time travel story, either. There’s no focusing on the mechanism for time travel, no paradoxes to repair, just good, human-centered storytelling, with a literary sensibility.