SOMEONE IN TIME edited by Jonathan Strahan (BOOK REVIEW)
Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance is an anthology of short stories by various authors including Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Jeffrey Ford, Nina Allan, Elizabeth Hand, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Catherynne M. Valente, Sam J. Miller, Rowan Coleman, Sarah Gailey, Margo Lanagan, Sameem Siddiqui, Theodora Goss, Carrie Vaughn, Ellen Klages, and Seanan McGuire.
This anthology, as you can probably tell, delves into the themes of time-travel, love, loss and reunions through a variety of narratives and diverse characters. I have chosen to review four of these stories which were my favourites and left the biggest impact on me. These are stories which celebrate love, self discovery and finding your soulmate.
Roadside Attraction by Alix E Harrow
This is the story of Floyd Butler, a young man who runs through time searching for what he had already found. On the day that Floyd is dumped by his girlfriend Candace Stillwater, he decides to take a trip to The Ticket Through Time Theme Park and use The World’s One and Only Time Machine in the hopes of having a heroic adventure. Over a period of months he travels back and forth through time, always returning not quite satisfied. Though all is not so bad, because each time he does return someone waits for him. Someone who he can share stories of his wild adventures with, someone with strikingly long eyelashes.
If you know me, you know I love Alix E Harrow. Her poetic and beautifully descriptive prose, her heartbreaking story arcs and her well crafted diverse characters always hold a special place for me. Roadside Attraction was no exception. This short story was a sweet slice of chocolate cake which filled my heart with such comfort and warmth. Harrow shows us that destiny doesn’t need to be a sweeping grand concept, sometimes it can simply be discovering and accepting who you are.
“Floyd had never had his heart
broken, not really, but he wondered
if it felt like this: a hunger so sharp
it hurt, a want so vast it splintered ribs.”
The Past Life Reconstruction Service by Zen Cho
“Rui closed his eyes in a temperature-controlled room in Hong Kong in winter. He opened his eyes to the glare of tropical sunshine. The air was humid, like the warm breath of a god.”
What if you could experience glimpses of your past lives? That’s exactly what The Past Life Reconstruction Services offers. A chance for those to choose a moment in time and travel back to the life they led during that exact time. Boasted as, “A leap into the unknown”. But what if each time you went back to your past life, you always met your ex? Well that’s exactly what happens to Rui.
What I enjoyed most about this story is Zen Cho’s twist on the portrayal of the ex partner. This isn’t a tale of an ex who treated Rui badly, oh no this is where Rui chose ambition over his soulmate. Whichever past life Rui enters, whether he be a male, female or in one scene even an animal, he always recognises who his ex is. Cho reflects that there are some people in life who we are fated to and not realising their worth, letting them slip through our fingers, can be the biggest mistake of all.
First Aid by Seanan McGuire
Taylor, or Bridget as she is now to be called, is from the 22nd Century. It should be a century of progression, of peace and prosperity but the world has gone turned to trash. A patriarchal society still reigns, the air has become toxic and fresh food has become rare, the people live on synthetically engineered food to survive. Bridget volunteers for the Deep Time Project—a project designed to explore the mysteries of history by sending volunteer time travellers to blend into the population of whichever era they visit and send notes to the future to help learn from the past. The program offers medical care and a generous amount of money, both of which Bridget sorely needs. The only catch is if you enter the program you give up your family and friends and present life. But for someone like Bridget, she has little choice. Therefore she agrees to get sent to Elizabethan England and live the remainder of her life there. But something goes very wrong.
“This was supposed to be the greatest moment of her life, the day she gave up the woman she’d been for the sake of the woman humanity needed her to be.”
What I loved about this story was that Bridget never felt at home in the 22nd century, not in her body, not in the patriarchal society and certainly not within her own family, even though she does all she can to help her sister Emily. Yet it is through an accident, a glitch in the time travel machine that sends her to a place where she finds love, where she can finally be Taylor and truly belong.
I Remember Satellites by Sarah Gailey
It all starts with a short straw. That’s the job no one wants, a job where the real you no longer exists, a job with no return, and unfortunately our protagonist Violet Anne Fitzwallace draws the short straw. To be sent back in time to cause a scandal before Prince Henry’s coronation, Anne’s future is set to marry a man she cannot stand. However upon her first meeting with Henry, she breaks the first rule: No Contact. Anne meets someone who is part of her life in the timeline she has come from, a person she was supposed to forget, had to forget, didn’t want to ever forget.
This was an utterly beautiful story where the characters escape the fate others impose on them and create their own path, doing what makes them the happiest. Even if that means leading a double life. Gailey’s prose is packed with emotion, lust, passion, tenderness and longing. In such a short narrative I was swept away in a forbidden romance that even time itself couldn’t pull apart.
“I breathed her in, the air around
her tasted so familiar, tasted just like
Dani. Like salt air, like thunderstorms, like warm flannel sheets on a cold winter night.
“Do you remember satellites?” I asked, my fingers curled tight in the fabric of her sleeve.”
ARC provided by Jess at Rebellion Publishing. Thank you for the copy!
Someone In Time is out today!