the Little Red Reviewer

Division by Zero #3: Then Again (a MiFiWriters anthology)

Posted on: December 2, 2014

then againDivision by Zero #3: Then Again, an anthology of the MiFiWriters group

published Nov 6 2014

Where I got it: borrowed

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I knew there were a bunch of speculative fiction writers groups here in Michigan, but I didn’t know one of them published annual anthologies! How cool is that?  MiFiWriters is based in Michigan, and exists to promote the writing of science fiction by Michiganders.  They recently published Then Again, the third anthology in their annual Division by Zero series.  They choose a different theme each year, and the theme of Then Again was time travel. Imagine all the things you could do if you could travel through time: save lives, stop horrible things from happening, solve crimes before they happened. But what about the dangers of time travel? What if you only made the situation worse? What it time travel tore holes in spacetime? Ah, the beauty of what if!

 

Here are a few of my thoughts on some of my favorite stories from Then Again.

 

Time Enough, by Matthew Rohr  –  This was my favorite story in the collection. When Wilson Andrews successfully crosses a Campbell Bridge to go back in time, he doesn’t exactly come out when he expected.  He knows his mission to kill a certain person, but first he’s got to find her.  The scientists knew the journey through time would scramble his brain a little, so they’ve imprinted him with briefings and recordings to help him along the way.  The story involves a lot of flashbacks and partial memories, so it feels like it is not told chronologically, giving it a feeling of wonderfully off kilter weirdness. Remember the movie Memento? This story feels like that a little, with Wilson coming across faces and voices that jog his memory. As his memory slowly returns, Wilson is able to put the puzzle pieces together. Once he realizes what is going on, will he be able to carry out the murder?  Even though there is closure at the end, I liked that this story feels like a prologue or middle chapter of a longer book.

Look Forward to Tomorrow by Haley Brown  –  A short but incredibly effective piece, this story is told in first person and is light on the characterization.  The unnamed protagonist tracks down a drug that will allow them to go back in time to spend a few hours with their spouse, who was murdered. Are they really going back in time? Is it just a drug addled hallucination? I doesn’t matter. It’s worth any price to see their lover again, and the main character is happy to risk addiction, bankruptcy, or even death for these precious moments. Author Haley Brown is pulling a fun trick with this story – the genders of the characters are never mentioned, leaving it up to the reader to overlay our expectations onto the characters.  It was very well done.

 

Screaming Mimi by Steven Vallarsa – One of the stranger and more unique stories in the collection. Time Weaver Gunther is on trial for his crimes. As part of the evidence, the panel of judges extract his memories. The time weavers can travel between parallel universes, and Gunther has fixated on one person, a man named Mark, in multiple instances of his existence in different universes. Mark might have a different job, or look different, or be married to a different person, but he always cruises past the YMCA on the same day at the same time, and he always picks up Gunther. But why does it seem like some of the Marks remember things from other parallel universes, things they can’t possibly know about?  Gunther takes the same actions over and over again, what result is he hoping for?  Like I said, this one is a weird one, but that’s why I liked it.

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Silent Night by Tim Rohr – Federal Agents Darnell and Mickey are always on the trail of shifters – creatures who can shift through time and reality, often leaving dangerous tears in spacetime behind. Lots of Chronos (shifters who move through time) are coming to this exact spot in the city, and it’s up to Darnell and Mickey and their agency to understand why, and to stop it. What’s happening looks stylish to the newsmedia, but lives are on the line.  it’s suspected that the shifters aren’t even human. But if they aren’t human, what are they, and where did they come from? As their current mission goes from bad to worse, Mickey is left in charge of protecting a young shifter girl named Olivia, and he uses the quiet moments to reminisce about his friendship with Darnell.  No matter what Mickey says, Darnell was convinced his wife is cheating on him, and his paranoia and suspicions are tearing him apart.  I liked the dynamic between the two Federal agents and the dark and dangerous world they inhabit, and it’s heartbreaking when you learn what really happened between Darnell and his wife.

 

2 Responses to "Division by Zero #3: Then Again (a MiFiWriters anthology)"

What a fun idea. I love this type of place specific anthology! Must check out:-)

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This is awesome, never would have known about this otherwise! I’ll be sharing this with all the other Michigan-based sf fans I know🙂

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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