5 of 5 stars.
Steampunk offers an alternate history that usually shows an early melding of technology into society. Rarely does it show the modern concern of humans displaced in the workplace by automatons. This all too human story, with automatons in the background, cleverly rehashes some of the old concerns after World War II about television and movies bringing about the death of theater.
After thirty years in the business, the three final members of the last troupe of human actors try one last comeback to show that human emotions and theatrical spontaneity have merit. Unfortunately, the theater-going public has chosen differently, opting for the same old stories told in exactly the same old manner with pinpoint precision and timing.
Even after all of these years, Peter, the director, is still managing to bed the hopeful young actresses. His wife, the lead actress and writer, cows in his presence. And Roger, the last great acting talent, hides his love of Emily and his disgust with Peter.
This novella comes across as a five-act capturing the voices and personas all too common with the Golden Era of theater. It’s creative and comfortable, and best of all–compelling.
This tale appears in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2016 edited by Rich Horton, which I received directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Aberration”, “Abyssus Abyssum Invocat”, “Blood, Ash, Braids”, Dream Houses, and “Keep Calm and Carillon”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]