The Short: “Someone in Time: Tales of Time-Crossed Romance“, Jonathan Strahan editor, 2022 Solaris, is a great anthology. It includes 16 stories and 420 pages of short fiction, with 14 new stories. My overall rating is 3.79/5, which I’m rounding up to “Great”. Strongly recommended.
The Full Story: When I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I have enjoyed a lot of anthologies by Jonathan Strahan, both for the scope or theme and for the stories selected. And who wouldn’t like an anthology of time travel stories and romance?
It’s 16 stories and 420 pages (page counts from Amazon and Simon & Schuster) of mostly original short fiction, with two reprints.
Strahan starts out with a great, thoughtful Introduction, where he mentions two stories that inspired this anthology, “Passing Strange” by Ellen Klages and “Time Was” by Ian MacDonald. He notes that the stories included are “fourteen original to this book and two that are long-standing favorites of mine”, “Time Gypsy” by Ellen Klages (her first published story, and a great one) and “Kronia” by Elizabeth Hand.
I also like the author bio information that starts each story, as this is my favorite configuration. I’ll need to follow up on some possible additional reading from a number of these authors.
I loved that I had only read one of these stories before, “Time Gypsy” by Ellen Klages, one hell of a great first published story. It was well worth a reread.
I loved the bonus stories mentioned by Strahan; I will be reading “Passing Strange” by Ellen Klages. I have read and loved MacDonald’s ” Time Was” several times, last as an epistolary story for a Chicon 8 panel.
New stories that I loved from “Someone in Time” included:
- “The Difference between Love and Time”, short fiction by Catherynne M. Valente, which was one of my Hugo Award novelette nominations.
- “The Lichens”, short fiction by Nina Allan. I love that this is a writer new to me.
- “Roadside Attraction”, a short story by Alix E. Harrow.
- “The Past Life Reconstruction Service”, short fiction by Zen Cho.
- “I Remember Satellites”, short fiction by Sarah Gailey.
- “The Golden Hour”, short fiction by Jeffrey Ford.
- “Bergamot and Vetiver”, short fiction by Lavanya Lakshminarayan.
- “Romance: Historical”, short fiction by Rowan Coleman, another author new to me.
- “The Place of All The Souls”, a novelette by Margo Lanagan.
- “Timed Obsolescence”, short fiction by Sameem Siddiqui.
- “A Letter to Merlin”, short fiction by Theodora Goss.
All of the remaining stories fell into “Very good” for me. There were no duds or clunkers in my opinion, which is great!
My overall rating was 3.79/5, which I’m rounding up to “Great”. Strongly recommended. Needless to say, you’d probably want to like time travel stories, although Strahan’s rather broad remit gives enough latitude for a lot of variety.
You will note below that I have noted a number of stories as “short fiction”. This is because I don’t have enough information on many of them to know if they are short stories or novelettes.
Detailed Reviews and Comments: Almost Nothing but Spoilers
“Roadside Attraction”, a short story by Alix E. Harrow. A great story of a young man, and time travel as a banal roadside attraction, and finding love right in front of you. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Past Life Reconstruction Service”, short fiction by Zen Cho. A great story by an author I pay attention to. A big shot movie director takes his boyfriend for granted, and the boyfriend leaves. He uses the Past Life Reconstruction Service to visit his past lives in a somewhat mental way, looking for inspiration for a movie that will not suck like his last film. He encounters versions of his ex-boyfriend every time, and ends up deciding the ex-boyfriend is his soul mate. He apologizes and takes the first step in getting back together. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“First Aid”, short fiction by Seanan McGuire. A very good story of a woman who joins Deep Time to earn money for her sister’s recovery. She is supposed to be sent back to Elizabethan England for the rest of her life, leaving research notes for the 22nd century. The time machine malfunctions, and she arrives in Cleveland in the 1990s. She finds love after meeting someone at the Renaissance Faire she arrives in. Rated 3.6/5, or “Very good”.
“I Remember Satellites”, short fiction by Sarah Gailey. A great story of a time operative who “draws the short straw” for a mission to the past she will not return from. She is to immerse herself in her persona in the past and forget and be forgotten by her future. We find out her task is ensure Edward VIII never becomes King, much less has to abdicate. Although she is horrified, she encounters her lover Dani in the past too, on her own mission. She will live as Edward’s wife, but her affair with Dani will continue. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Golden Hour”, short fiction by Jeffrey Ford. A great story which resolves into the love of a time traveler and his wife, and how she returns home and he cannot, and the world and remaining characters are the diminishing world of his memory. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Lichens”, short fiction by Nina Allan. A wonderful story of a Scottish spinster, educated with the support of her independent father, is recruited by a time traveler to investigate changes in lichens over time and to verify the location of an artifact believed to be an alien spaceship. They may become lovers. I need to read more by this author who is new to me. Rated 3.9/5, or “Great”.
“Kronia“, a short story by Elizabeth Hand, from Conjunctions 44, Spring 2005. A very good story of lives intertwined but not generally meeting. Rated 3.7/5, or “Very good”.
“Bergamot and Vetiver”, short fiction by Lavanya Lakshminarayan. A great story of a time traveler gone rogue and an Indus Valley civilization believed to be masters of water. Water is stolen by the future, ending the civilization. It’s also a love story. As a water resources civil engineer, I loved the water aspect. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Difference between Love and Time”, short fiction by Catherynne M. Valente. A great story of a woman in an on again/off again relationship with the space time continuum. I only wish Valente had enumerated the comfort reads of the space time continuum. Rated 4/5, or “Great”.
“Unbashed, or: Jackson, Whose Cowardice Tore a Hole in the Chronoverse”, short fiction by Sam J. Miller. A very good story of love and loss, and shame, with multiverses and time. Rated 3.7/5, or “Very good”.
“Romance: Historical”, short fiction by Rowan Coleman. A thoroughly charming story of love across time in a bookstore, connecting now and the run up to WWI. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“The Place of All The Souls”, a novelette by Margo Lanagan. A great story of time travel, and families, and true love, and life. There is no happy ending here for the time travelers, only life. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
Timed Obsolescence”, short fiction by Sameem Siddiqui. A great story of love and time debt, and an illegal daughter, and who should exist. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“A Letter to Merlin”, short fiction by Theodora Goss. A great epistolary story of a corps of Time Observatory operators, all working to extend human timelines. Volunteers are recruited when they are about to die, a bit like in John Varley’s 1977 “Air Raid“. She is sent to love and betray King Arthur repeatedly. She tries to let Arthur know she really loved him. Rated 3.8/5, or “Great”.
“Dead Poets”, short fiction by Carrie Vaughn. A very good story of a poetry academic who uses a wine filled kylix to attempt to travel to Sappho. I love the first sentence, “The study of literature is the process of continually falling in love with dead people.” Rated 3.7/5, or “Very good”.
“Time Gypsy“, a novelette by Ellen Klages, from “Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction“, Nicola Griffith & Stephen Pagel editors, 1998 The Overlook Press. A great story of a physics post doc “asked” to go back to the 1950s by her 1990s Nobel physics department head. This department head wants the dissertation that disappeared, which may hold the key to more practical time travel. A great story with a lot of twists and great characters. Hugo and Nebula finalist, and her first published story! Rated 3.9/5, or “Great”.
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