My two favorite subgenres in science fiction are space opera and hard science, but a (very) close third is time travel. There are just so many things you can do with time travel, the possibilities are almost endless.
I reviewed the first volume of Fiction River, Unnatural Worlds and interviewed Kris Rusch over at my other blogging gig on the Amazing Stories (TM) website. Time Streams is the third installment of this bimonthly publication, and it’s top notch. There’s not a bad story to be found among the 14 tales presented here.
Starting off the magazine is Sharon Joss with “Love in the Time of Dust and Venom” in which an elderly Japanese man with only months to live tries to find out what happens to the village in which he and his ancestors grew up. The village was made unihabitable in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. “This Time I Return for Good” by Michael Robert Thomas is an epistolary adventure that unfolds with each letter to reveal what’s really going on. Scott William Carter takes us to something that resembles Ray Bradbury country when a man and his remaining son discover “The Elevator in the Corn Field”.
The terrorist in J. Steven York’s story meets his match when he encounters a man who gets his instruction from a “Radio Free Future”. In “Unstuck” by D. K. Holmberg, a man whose life is in a rut becomes unstuck in more ways than one in this bittersweet tale. Ray Vukcevich tells you what gets written in “Your Permanent Record”. Vukcevich is an author whose work has not always clicked with me, but I really liked this one.
Dean Wesley Smith gives us a dark tale of researching the past through time travel in “Waiting for the Coin to Drop”. Lee Allred’s “Nice Timestream Youse Got Here” was a delight, the story of a time cop that reads as though it was written by Damon Runyon, and just a great deal of fun. In Jeffrey A. Ballard’s “The Highlight of a Life” a regretful scientist gets what most people only wish for, a second chance.
Mike Resnick teams up with new writer Lou J. Berger to give us the story of a man who is essentially invisible and how he uses time travel to form “A Beautiful Friendship”. Michael A. Stackpole envisions the conflicts among a group of people who can travel through time in an attempt to “Fix” things to their liking.
“The Totem of Curtained Minds” is only Ken Hinkley’s third story, and I want to know one thing: where can I find his first two? This is a hardboiled tale of a prisoner who manages to pull off the ultimate escape and find rehabilitation in the process. It was my favorite in the book. A close second for favorite was Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s tale the economics of time travel, in the frightening “September at Wall and Broad”. Finally, Robert T. Jeshonek wraps up the volume wtih “Time, Expressed as an Entree” in which a creature that feeds on time discovers the passage of time is relative.
I liked the first volume of Fiction River very much, but I loved the third volume. (I’ve not read the second, How to Save the World, yet. Yet. If it’s anywhere near as good as the other two, it will be worth reading.) Editor Dean Wesley Smith has compiled an outstanding volume of time travel stories, no two alike. I highly recommend it.
Each volume has a theme and a different editor. The next volume, which should be out shortly, is entitled Christmas Ghosts and is edited by Kristine Grayson, the romance author persona of Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Look for a review of it at Adventures Fantastic in December or late November. Fiction River is available in print and electronic format by subscription ($99.99 print/$39.99 electronic) or single issue. This is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today. Check out an issue and see why I say that.