Strange Horizons, June 1 & 8, 2015
Reviewed by Kris Rudin
Set in the Netherlands in 1729, this is a story about persecution, friendship and loyalty. The protagonist is Gysbert, a young student, and his friend Raphael, a Jew. They are part of a hidden class of people: homosexuals. The story opens with Gysbert and Raphael hiding in the ruins of an old church, from someone who may have spotted them together. They are separated, and Gysbert ends up in a tunnel beneath the ruins. Here, he encounters a young man dressed in strange garb and who speaks classical Latin. But sometimes the young man appears as an old man, and sometimes as a middle-aged man. Gysbert discovers that these tunnels are a place where timelines intersect and overlap, though it is still not quite clear to him exactly what is happening. When Raphael fails to show up the next day, Gysbert fears he has been arrested and will be executed for the crime of sodomy. He decides he must rescue his friend. While the story is thought-provoking and original, the style is rather dry, and I never connected with Gysbert or felt his fear and desperation. Even the final sacrificial act seemed emotionless. For a story about such strong emotions, it left me feeling flat.