Finesse and subtlety,
This review is from: Strange Soul Mates: A Short Story (Kindle Edition)
This short science fiction story begins with Steven, drowning his sorrows in a bar because he believes that this girlfriend Emily, who won't respond to his increasingly angry text messages, is playing around. While in this vulnerable state, he is approached by George, who claims to have invented a machine which will link Steven and Emily together in a permanent and unconventional way. Although sceptical, in his present state of mind Stephen is willing to try anything.
This is an entertaining little piece that had me laughing from time to time. It is not exactly the most original story ever written. The central element of the plot is hardly new (I won't give anything away here). I had the feeling that the author was aware of this, and was to some extent paying homage to earlier stories. For example, the author's detailed description of the machine invented by George is cheekily and deliberately derivative, even somewhat "retro" - it could be an instrument from a B-grade 1950s sci fi flick. Nor is the outcome of Steven's attempt to use this machine especially surprising. But the aftermath of this is handled very well. It is written with just the right, deft touch - there is no need to hammer the message home to us. This is true of both Emily's condition and that of the old man, George, revealed to us obliquely by the neighbour. It is pleasing that Emily remains completely unaware of the true situation. The story also finishes in just the right place, leaving the characters in the same state of uncertainty as the reader.
The characters are generally well drawn, including minor players, such as the neighbour and the barman, who only appear for a page or so. This is commendable in a short piece such as this. However, I felt that the handling of Emily's character was a little more delicate than that of Steven's. Perhaps giving his character a slightly (not much, but slightly) more sympathetic treatment would have helped us to feel more concerned about his fate. On the other hand perhaps, for reasons of her own, the author wants us to think that he gets what he deserves!
This is a nice story, not particularly original, but written with some finesse and subtlety of style that set it slightly apart. There are a few minor grammatical issues, which a good copy editor/proof reader should have addressed. I give it 4 stars, and look forward to reading more from this author.
Maybe they'll remember me. by Philip Newey