My Year of Short Stories: Dec 13th, Timewalking by Michael Cassutt, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2017

This is an idea piece. When I say that, I mean, the whole piece is based on the question of: What if _____. In Timewalking’s case, the question is: What if information could travel through time? What if our future selves could send messages back to our past or present selves? What decisions would we make?

In Timewalking, James, a 60s something white guy in the bay area has created a new kind of network with his partner Pham. This network will connect the world in some nebulous way that is described as “the internet meets Gaia.” Then two separate corporations come to purchase James and Pham’s company. At the same time, James is having sleepwalking episodes in which one of the aforementioned corporations keeps coming up. It becomes clear that his future self is trying to communicate with his present.

This piece–I guess I can see the appeal, but it strikes me as nothing new in terms of speculative ideas. I think the film Arrival did a similar thing with past and present by concept if not by way of structure. In the end, a piece I’m slightly disappointed with as the protagonist wasn’t particularly interesting and the idea wasn’t new. (D)


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