Augusta Prime by Karin Tidbeck
Section: Mazes and Traps
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5 Rating
What is “time”?
About the author:
Karin Tieback is a Swedish writer who has published short stories and poetry in Swedish since 2002, and in English since 2010. Her 2010 book debut, the short-story collection Ven är Arvid Pekon?, awarded her the coveted one-year working grant from the Swedish Authors’ Fund. Her English-language collection Jagannath (2012) won the Crawford Award and was short-listed for the Tiptoe Award. Her English publication history included Weird Tales, Shimmer magazine, Tor.com, Ligthspeed, Strange Horizons, Unstuck Annual, and the anthology Odd?. Her first novel, Amatka, was released by Sweden’s largest publisher in 2012. “Augusta Prima” was her first published story in English, appearing in Weird Tales in 2011.
Reading Karin’s author profile, it is very obvious that she write some strange and odd stories. This is not actually my first time reading her work; I read A Call to Arms for Deceased Authors’ Rights in Uncanny Magazine #7 last year. It was very strange, but it was also an excellent story with profound imagination. Augusta Prime on the other hand, was plain weird and strange.
Augusta was inked to Mnemosyne’s court and was honored to be asked to take the first shot of the croquet game. It is a great honor for both of those things, and Augusta is quite nervous. After her shot nearly takes out of the twins, the Mnemosyne smiles at her and she knows she is all right.
As the game progress, and a number of competitors were knocked out with bruises, black eyes, busted knees, and blood noses – Augusta’s ball is into the woods. She goes to retrieve it and finds a human corpse with a gold locket around its neck. She then does the only sensible things: take the gold locket for her self and tell the other part goers to come look at the “new and interesting corpse.”
This gold locket is actually a pocket watch that tells time. Both there items are a mystery to Augusta, because watches are thing that humans wear, and she doesn’t have an concept of what “time” is?
This story is so strange, I’m not sure how to describe it. And how it ended up in a time-travel anthology, I am not sure either. I debated removing my “time-travel” tag from this review, but seeing as how it’s a part of The Time-Travelers Almanac, I felt it would be weird if I took it out. Regardless, I’ll give it a shot.
I picture this story taking place in the 17 century London on some rich and snobby nobel’s estate. I get that because of their dialect and idioms, and because of the way they treat their servant and others. However, Karin take on this looking-down on lower classes lifestyle of the nobel’s is incredibly hyperbolic. Servants are flogged during the croquet match, sisters are feed to the point that they pop, they have no regard or care for the lives of those that are not them, and they know nothing that is not of their own world.
That is pretty funny, and reflecting on the story now, I feel that story was made to make fun of the upper-class, but this was so dang confusing!
Augusta does now know what “time” is. Time does not flow in her world; it is something only humans have. But as she further her pursuit of what “time” is, meets a djinneya, one who travels between worlds part the woods, who agrees to explain to Augusts what “time” is – for a cost.
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
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While the reading of the story was strange, it was entertaining, but the problem with the strange was that it was hard to follow and understand. When the djinneya “explains” how time is and how the worlds work, I essentially just as lost. Though while I may not have understood exactly how things work in this universe, the ending made enough sense that I yelled “Ha!” out-loud as soon as I read the last sentence. Super snarky; still didn’t explain anything, but dang was a good burn.
The story is only 6 pages, so despite the 2.5 rating, it is very readable and you may like this more than me.
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See you next Thursday for Life Trap by Barrington J. Bayley