Tuesday, July 4, 2017

L'appel du vide, by Rich Larson

Read this issue
(Near-Future SF) Pau is sure that his kidnappers want information about the secret project he’s working on, but why don’t they ever ask him any questions? (5,000 words; Time: 16m)

Rating: ★★★☆☆ Average

"," by (edited by Jason Sizemore), appeared in issue 98, published on .

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

Pro: The French title means “the call of the void,” and that’s ultimately what this piece is about. The void called to Naza, of course, but since her death, it calls to Pau as well, and at the end, he finds it.

Con: Like most time-travel stories, this one doesn’t survive close inspection. More seriously, Pau’s character is never developed to the point where we feel anything for him.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 98)
Rich Larson Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

Follow RSR on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or E-mail.

5 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. Beelebub 7:7 - bitch and ye shall receive... but be careful what you bitch for. :)

    Had to come read this and post, since we were just discussing Larson's recent stories and I was complaining that they were too similar to each other so the very next story the very next day is different from those... but an awful lot like Lina Rather's "Seven Permutations of My Daughter" just recently, along with others. I agree with your review exactly. Decent read but meh - time travel and just shapes and dynamics where characters are supposed to be but no actual characters. No original ideas, either.

    1. I don't put a lot of value on original ideas. Even with all that I've read, it's hard to be sure that something really is original, it's hard for anything to actually be original, and whether a reader thinks it's original is going to depend on how much he/she has read.

      But I really want a story to make me care about the characters.

    2. Hm, it depends for me. That's probably why I threw in the bit about ideas. I value good characterization when it's important (which is usually the case) but don't actually require it in SF. If you're dealing with physical concepts, aliens who aren't characterized in human terms, vast social movements or sweeps of history, or any number of other things, then effort spent on characterization can be wasted and an actual inartistic impediment to the actual story. That said, "original" is probably an overstatement again, and I agree with you that little is (or can be guaranteed to be) new under the sun. What I meant more was intellectual content that makes me think about something interesting, especially if I haven't seen it in a lot of fiction recently or if it makes me think about it in a fresh way. I think he might have been going for that with the "is it the thing itself?" element but that's not really fresh and sufficient either.

      (But you *can* do something new - unless you're caught by a Democritus-like "he intuited something similar" problem - in that any of the newest scientific discoveries, theories, etc., haven't necessarily been done before and would make good material for SF stories instead of yet another hand-wavy time travel story.)

      Still, I'm not a big "originalist" either. It's just that the story really ought to excel at *something* and not be too bad at most everything else rather than just being generally okay or worse.

  2. My thought was that now that he knows it was suicide, he should go back further and clue someone into the fact that his daughter needs help.