Strange Horizons, November 14, 2011

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Strange Horizons, November 14, 2011

“Eight” by Corinne Duyvis

Reviewed by Sherry Decker

Humankind has the well-deserved reputation for being screw-ups. Given the chance to relive and repair past mistakes could result in avoiding Armageddon, but if one studies history, most likely our attempts would result in disaster.

In “Eight” by Corinne Duyvis, we have eight versions of the same time traveling soldier, sent forward in time to learn the results of a future war. Eight didn’t want to go, but she is a soldier and soldiers do as they’re told. She’s seen the sad faces from the previous seven versions of herself. She noted the fear in the eyes of number Nine, waiting in the wings. She remembered being afraid. It feels horrible, returning as a failure. But is failure inevitable? Can the information she brought back, help number Nine? Ten? Some future version of herself?

This story is more about how it feels to return from time traveling, how it feels to leave people behind in that future world, never knowing what happened to them. Husbands, children, friends. Nothing can be sent through except the naked traveler, so no photos come back, no letters, nothing. Just memories. Eight spends hours sketching the face of her young daughter from memory, perfecting the eyes.

We see very little of what life is like decades into the future but we learn that presidents, elections and new governing bodies change nothing.

Upon returning, Eight talks to the other frustrated versions of herself and finds no solace there.

Imaginative story with strong characters. Good writing style. Enjoyed it.