SCI FICTION, March 23, 2005

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"Vanishing Act" by E. Catherine Tobler

ImageE. Catherine Tobler’s novelette “Vanishing Act” is this week’s SCI FICTION Original. “Vanishing Act” is a story about two runaways, a not-quite little girl and a young man.

Rabi possesses the skill to make things vanish, though he could sometimes make them reappear in a specific place. He parlayed this skill into a job with Jackson’s Unreal Circus and Mobile Marmalade, which didn’t stop for anything on the tracks, except when it did. This time, what Jackson stops for appears like a strange little girl, though Rabi knows she isn’t for he also possesses the ability to see into people’s minds, and her mind is opaque to him. Rabi and Vara, as the little girl comes to be known, eventually must confront their reason behind their perpetual running, and Vara’s aching desire to go home has a similar effect on Rabi.

Lost things have a pronounced presence in “Vanishing Act,” especially for Rabi. By sending Vara–a lost thing–home, making her no longer lost to herself, Rabi makes her lost to him. It is through Vara that Rabi begins to find himself and the ability to stop running.

"Vanishing Act" has haunting moments, deeply imbedded with loss.  It also has vivid amusements befitting Jackson’s Unreal Circus and Mobile Marmalade. The mix is an outstanding story.