Wednesday, December 30, 2015

This Evening's Performance, by Genevieve Valentine

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(Steampunk) The last three human actors struggle to find roles in a post-WWI world where automata have replaced people on the stage. (16,700 words; Time: 55m)

Rating: ★★☆☆☆, Not Recommended
Recommended By: RHorton:5

"This Evening's Performance," by , appeared in The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The story really captures the feel of lost-generation literature. We really feel the pride and despair of the aging actors who have no place in the new world order.

Con: There's too much here that challenges disbelief. The automata are described in terms that make them sound anything but attractive, so it's hard to buy the argument that crowds preferred them. Especially when we're told that they were repurposed war machines. But if you bought that idea, then Peter's trick of making them "look like they were trying" shouldn't have worked, nor would any audience want to watch Roger acting in the midst of machines.

The automata themselves make little appearance until late in the story, but even then there's contradiction. We're told earlier that you can't hold a conversation with one, but then we find that that's exactly how Peter gives them stage directions.

Finally, there's almost no action and therefore zero tension in the story, nor are there any real surprises--foreshadowed or not.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating but for different reasons.

    There is a lot left un-said in this story. It is implied. I just got fed-up of having to figure out what was being implied.