Strange Horizons, January 2011

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Strange Horizons, January 2011

“Source Decay” by Charlie Jane Anders (1/3/11)
“The Space Between Stars” by Cassandra Clarke (1/10/11)
“Pinion” by Stellan Thorne (1/17/11)

Reviewed by Rena Hawkins

In “Source Decay” by Charlie Jane Anders, the author tells the epic story of a faked reality TV episode as the focus of the backdrop of centuries of human development–and beyond.

I “get” the idea contained within the story; that even a mundane reality TV episode can be so blown out of proportion by the media and obsessed viewers that it takes on meaning and significance it never possessed to begin with. Unfortunately, “Source Decay” kicks this idea to death by the time the story ends.

“The Space Between Stars” by Cassandra Clarke is told in narrative form by an engineer working at what is obviously Area 51. As a younger man, he was allowed to travel to Las Vegas on the weekends, so as not to go “crazy” from the isolated work environment. In Vegas he met a showgirl and they had a strangely platonic, years-long relationship before eventually losing track of each other.

Some might find the engineer cold and unemotional, but I found his emotional distance to be the very essence of the story. He distanced himself from the death of his parents, he has no real life outside of his work, and he accepts that he’s never allowed to speak about his work under pain of prosecution. Why wouldn’t the man be just as distant and unemotional in his love life? But throughout the years, he never stops thinking about his showgirl. Even when the world might literally be coming to an end, his thoughts are of her. An unusual love story, I admit, but I found it touching.

How do you arrest a guardian angel? Find out in “Pinion” by Stellan Thorne. Detective Greyling misses his dead partner and harbors a growing, depairing anger at the world around him. When he takes a robbery case where the witness claims the crime was committed by an angel, he thinks the witness either high or a liar. Little does he realize that his involvement in the case will change the course of his life.