Review: The Ifs of Time

The Ifs of Time is a short story written by James Stoddard.  This story was published in the March/April edition of Fantasy & ScienceFiction.

This is the kind of short story that makes me wonder if I get short fiction at all.  First, let me say that I don’t think there’s nything wrong with this piece whatsoever.  It’s a fascinating idea and it’s well-depicted by the author.  But…

All the pieces fit together in an artsy sort of way.  It’s a fascinating read.  It really is.  At the same time, it seems a bit too condensed and, at the same time, a bit too disconnected.

You start with one character, and the details of where this character is and what he is doing are too unclear for me to get a sense of him before the end of the story.  What is he doing?  Why?  Should he be doing it?  These questions are answered by the end, but it takes the end to understand—and not in a suspenseful sort of way.

Then, you are plunged into a series of short-short stories that have nothing to do with the piece other than that these stories are being told by another set of characters.  These stories are presented, by the characters, as being very clever; but the stories themselves leave me unconvinced of this.

Then, finally, when the first character and the storytelling characters meet up, the plot and the stakes become clear.

Perhaps if it wasn’t quite so condensed it wouldn’t be confusing.  Perhaps if there was a before-during-after presentation of the problem, the significance would be relevant to the reader before the conclusion.  Maybe it’s just that short stories aren’t my natural medium.  I don’t know.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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