Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Vanishing Kind, by Lavie Tidhar

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(Alternate History) In 1950s London after the Nazi's won WWII, a German man tries to find a girl he used to love in response to her call for help. (18,093 words; Time: 1h:00m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average
Recommended By: GDozois:5 RHorton:5 JStrahan

"The Vanishing Kind," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 07-08|16, published on by .

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

Pro: This is pretty much a mystery story, with two twists: first, that Ulla isn't dead, and, second, that Everly is actually Jewish. By the end, all the questions are answered.

Con: The first twist was no surprise; when Gunther identified the body based on a ring (because the face was shot off), I immediately suspected Ulla wasn't really dead. The second was a surprise, but also irrelevant to the story, which had otherwise only made reference in passing to the Holocaust.

With very small changes, this could be a 100% mainstream story. (E.g. move it to 1950s East Berlin.)

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 07-08|16)
Lavie Tidhar Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB

5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I liked this quite a bit more than you did - I don't think I'd give it a 5, but definitely a 4. It's certainly true that the first twist is not a surprise at all - in fact, the story so closely tracks The Third Man that no one who has seen that great film would be surprised by the general plot. (I wasn't sure from your mini-review whether you hadn't seen it or were just avoiding more detailed spoilers.) However, I found the final revelation about Everly to be quite powerful, precisely because the earlier references to the Holocaust had been so oblique - precisely as you would expect in an alternate history where it is not regarded as a monstrous crime.

    1. I'll admit I didn't see the connection to "The Third Man," but it's obvious once you point it out. So not only could it be turned into a mainstream story, it already has been! :-)

  2. I also liked this more than you did, in fact I thought it was excellent - moody, disturbing and resonant. I expect that being British I'm more likely to be attuned to the setting.
    I think it deserves the multiple YB spots it's been given.
    Incidentally another comparison would be SS GB by Len Deighton, but it's been years since I read that.

  3. I'll admit I'm not a fan of what-if-the-Nazis-won alternate history stories. I find them disturbing, but not in a good way.

  4. Shout out to the forced Young Frankenstein joke