Short Story Review: “Time Bomb Time” by C. C. Finlay

4 of 5 stars.

Mysterious thing, time. Powerful, and when meddled with, dangerous.

–Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

This clever, if not brilliant, vignette has college friends and ex-sweethearts, Hannah and Nolon, in Hannah’s dorm room overlooking a student protest on the quad which is receiving local news coverage. Neither cares about the protest, but Nolon’s desperate for academic affirmation and exposure after being dismissed from his scholarly pursuits for following a fringe theory–he wants to manipulate time itself. [Note that both names are palindromes–that’s no accident.]

Hannah’s paranoid about the keg-sized bomb-looking device that Nolon has dragged into her room. In their collective anxiety, their conversation ricochets from their past relationship, to Nolon’s academic career, to what he hopes to accomplish today. Namely, he wants to create a time-bubble in which those affected would run backwards through time for a short period before reverting to forward, but now temporally offset from the greater world. Clocks would measure the time rift.

The tale takes shape as a one-room drama, of sorts, until it turns and runs paragraph after paragraph, and page after page, in reverse order. Every action, and every snippet of dialogue still makes complete sense if not better sense than the first time. The question is, at which point is time running in which direction?

The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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