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earlier burfling | later burfling

Title: "The Day the World Turned Upside Down"
Author: Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Lia Belt translator
Published in: Lightspeed, April 2014
Slates: Not on either Puppy slate!
Trigger warnings: obsessive ex-boyfriend

Synopsis: One fine morning at 10:05AM, the world literally turns upside down; "Mother Earth shook off anything that wasn't tied firmly down to her surface" and it all falls into the sky. Toby, our narrator, barely notices, since for him this is the second time in two days that the world had come to an end - the first being when his girlfriend Sophie broke up with him. Alas for Sophie, she left her pet goldfish Bubbles at Toby's place. When the gravity reverses, Bubbles' fishbowl breaks; almost at the same moment Toby gets a call from Sophie's phone but loses signal before he can answer it. Toby puts Bubbles in a half-empty bottle of 7-Up and starts a journey to find Sophie, return Bubbles, and hopefully live happily ever after together. After several days' travel through the upside-down world, Toby actually does find Sophie. Sophie is badly injured, but still doesn't want to be with Toby. Toby, furious, takes Bubbles and releases him into a nearby lake.

My reaction: This is the only non-Puppy entry in the short fiction categories; it only got on because another John C. Wright effort was declared ineligible. I heard Olde Heuvelt mentioned at Boskone as one of the up-and-coming stars of speculative fiction, so I had high hopes for this story.

I was sadly disappointed.

The writing is wonderfully evocative, and I loved the idea of combining a global disaster and a personal one. However, Toby is, to put things bluntly, an utter asshole, and I found myself hating his guts as the story progressed. I probably could have gotten over him being so damn unlikeable, but I could not buy into the selective nature of the gravity-reversal. Why didn't things firmly attached to the Earth fall off? Why didn't bodies of water fall off? And how the heck does a goldfish survive being stuffed into a bottle of 7-Up? (Not a 7-Up bottle of water - a 7-Up bottle of 7-Up - carbonated, acidic, sugar water.)

Sadly, this goes below No Award.


Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/195314.html - comment wherever you please.

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