Sunday, November 24, 2019

A Time to Reap, by Elizabeth Bear


(Time Travel) In 2028, Kitty has a role in a play about a mass murder committed in 1978, but when she visits the setting of the crime, she’ll pulled into the past right before the crimes take place. (25,026 words; Time: 1h:23m)

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 31, published on .

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

Review: 2019.656 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: A consistently interesting murder mystery with a time-travel twist to it. The fact that we know there’s a murder coming adds tension, as does the fact that Kitty only tells us bits and pieces about the murder, so we don’t know all the details.

At one level this is a story about abuse; Kitty herself has been abused, in a way, by her mom pushing her too hard to be an actor. Uncle Clark’s abuse is evident almost from the first scene, but it’s not clear for a while exactly what kind of abuse it was nor who the victims were.

Con: The story has too many characters and it’s hard to keep them straight or to figure out who’s related to whom. And what happened to the dads in this story?

It’s hard to complain too much about logic in a time-travel story, but this one seems unusually weak. The bit about changes in the past rippling to the future and then entering Kitty’s memory is one problem, but even granted that, there are other issues. How does Kitty in 2028 find the barn if it burned down in 1978? How did drunk Tom both use the time machine to flee and somehow bring the machine with him? For that matter, how did Tom learn how to use the time machine when Margret herself didn’t even know she’d invented one?

There are some sloppy edits as well. Gloria is referred to as “Marland” and “Abbot” in the same paragraph. The events of the murders are described as both 60 years in the past and 50.

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