Saturday, July 28, 2018

Grey Halls, by Rachael Cupp

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Time Travel) A composer travels from his grim underground city back to the early 1970s hoping to find inspiring songs that’ll rekindle his creative spark. (5,909 words; Time: 19m)

"Grey Halls," by (edited by Andy Cox), appeared in issue 276, published on by .

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

Pro: In terms of plot, this one is pretty simple: Anděl travels to the past to try to unblock his creative genius, and he succeeds, but at the cost of learning that nothing is really new anymore.

The "Grey Halls" song Anděl hears is “Different Drum” sung by Linda Ronstadt (“that cowgirl”) and composed by Michael Nesmith (that wool-hat guy) in 1967, which fits the “Nixonian” timeline. (Nixon was president from 1969 to 1974).

The song is about marching to the beat of a different drum, which is quite ironic. Anděl is horrified to learn that his original composition is simply a copy of something centuries old.

The other song he mentions is Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush,” which came out in 1970, so we can be sure Anděl is visiting the early 1970s.

This song is likewise ironic since it ends with humanity abandoning a ruined Earth to find a new planet, but Anděl knows that people moved beneath the surface and never left the planet.

At the end, we’re not sure whether Anděl is still going to compose, knowing that nothing is original anymore, but at least he understands what his choice is, and now his mind is full of melodies.

Con: The combinatoric space of possible melodies is so huge it’s unlikely that we could ever run out of new ones. It’s hard to sustain suspension of disbelief when he hears his own tune, exact in all details, on the jukebox.

The future world is so grim it’s hard to take any joy in Anděl’s accomplishment.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 276)
Rachael Cupp Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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