Speculative Fiction Reviews
An Occasional Review Journal

You've probably noticed there are no new reviews here. I simply haven't time for reviewing and writing recently, and reviewing has had to go. For now, this journal is closed. Apologies.

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Neverary, October 2004

With semi-professional magazines I tend to just review the stories that stood out from the others. I'll do the same with my review of the new issue of Neverary, a small web-based zine edited by Lon Prater that has been publishing for just over a year.

Tomorrow is Another..., by Jennifer Schwabach

The most interesting story in this issue of Neverary is Jennifer Schwabach’s Tomorrow is Another... A private research institute has invented a method of seeing back in time. Through the windows that open to the past, the researchers are able to observe events in the past. There are two rules in this operation: Don’t get addicted; and, There’s no room for anything else. But the rules are not easy to obey.

The story opens with some flair. Maureen, one of the researchers, is watching the filming of the final scene of Gone With the Wind. The dialogue sparkles and the description is precise. Schwabach seems far more at home here, describing a real event, than she does in the fictional setting of the research institute, which by comparison seems somewhat flat and poorly sketched. Time travel of any sorts is always difficult to do believably. When Schwabach is focusing on other aspects of the story, the story flows well; when she returns to the science and the implications of interference in the past, the story is a little more impenetrable. The science is dismissed with a degree of hand waving and might well have been better ignored entirely. The story ends neatly, but Schwabach could have spent a little more time exploring the consequences of the time travel.

Tomorrow is Another... is an entertaining, generally engaging story with some nice touches, which could have been more significant had more effort been put into the time-travel aspects.

The 60,001st Offering, by Greg Beatty

Greg Beatty is one of the more prolific writers on the semi-pro scene, and his stories occasionally appear in the major genre publications, including Sci Fiction. The 60,001st Offering tells of a visit to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Among the offerings left there, a tourist comes across a particularly strange item.

Beatty’s story is competently told and it is touching in places, but somehow it lacks the power and impact that it could and perhaps should have. Nonetheless, the story is respectful and portrays the dignity of the surviving veterans who visit the Memorial. In this story, the impact of the war on those who did come home is clearly felt, and this is what makes up the emotional core of the story. The speculative element of this story is extremely slight and slightly silly, but I could not help but feel that the story would be less without it.

The 60,001st Offering is worth reading if you have some connection to the Vietnam war, perhaps less so if you do not.

--Patrick Samphire, 2 October 2004

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