Section: Reactionaries and Revolutionares
Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT
Rating: 4/5 Rating
Finally! I a real time-travel story in the “Reactionaries and Revolutionaries” section!
About the author:
Ellen Klages is an American writer who as published two acclaimed young-adult novels. The Green Sea, which won the Scott O’Dell Award, the New Mexico Book Award, and the Judy Lopez Memorial award, and White Sands, Red Menace, which won the California and New Mexico Book awards. Her short stories have been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, World Fantasy Award, and Campbell Award. Her story, “Basement Magic,” won a Nebula in 2005. She lives in San Francisco, in a small house full of strange and wondrous things. “Time Gypsy” was first published in 1998, in Bending the Landscape: Science Fiction, edited by Nicola Griffith, and Stephen Pagel.
This story was a long, over-due, refreshement. Not only was Time Gypsy what I would actually consider a “time-travel” story, but the actually story itself was good too! I was beside myself with delight the whole time I was reading this 🙂
Dr. Carol McCullough – a masters in physics, and then a Ph.D in History of Science – focuses her studies on the life of the late, and greatly influential, female physicist, Sara Baxter Clarke. So, it is to her utmost delight when her chairman of the physic board, Nobel Winner, Dr. Raymond Chambers, calls her to his office saying that he wants to send her back in time to talk with Sara before her death. The only catch is they only have enough power to send her once, and for a max of three days before she can’t return.
Apparently Sara had been studying Tempokinetics, and when she died, her paper, which was supposedly on the topic, went with her. Dr. Chambers wants Carol to go back and retrieve that paper for him, so that he can solve this issue with time-travel (and win another Nobel Prize for himself).
Carol is gay. I know this is a very weird way to start off the review, but it is extremely important to the plot. Carol is from the late 1990s where it okay for couple of same sex to walk around together, or even, have a dance at a bar. This is NOT the case in the 1950s where she is traveling back to. In that time-period, bar are actively rated a couples are then arrested and charged with some kind of public indecency fine – all because they were gay and dancing in a bar.
Anyways, going back in time, Carol has to convince Sara to give her this paper before she dies in a car crash later, the day that Carol is supposed to travel back to her future. Seems simple enough, except when Carol starts to develop feeling for Sara… and especially when Sara returns those feelings.
On top of Carol fighting wether or not to tell Sara now about her upcoming death, she has to deal with the fact that Dr. Chambers may not have written the paper that got him the nobel prize years ago, and that his intention to do with Sara’s – even though in the future she dies before she can present it – is the same thing as before.
I have mention a lot about love, and conflict, but time-travel paradoxes are (potentially) very present here, and through out the whole story, I was anxious to see how they would be resolved. Ellen did a great job with the time-travel in this story 🙂
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
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The main conflicts that arise in this story are wether or not Carol should tell Sara about her life-ending car crash that is coming up, and, also because of her feeling, wether or not she should stay in 50s with Sara, even though she is used to 90s where her sexual presence is MUCH more tolerable.
Not much to conclude here: time-travel element was critical to the plot (unlike a lot of other stores in this section, so far), and I had no problems with its explanation; this was a extremely sympathetic situation we found our main protagonist in, and Ellen was able to highlight how far our culture has come in acceptance, and show had bad and tough some things were back then.
All-in-all, very good story.
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See you next Thursday for On the Watchtower at Plataea by Gary Kilworth