Title: "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
Author: John C. Wright
Published in: The Book of Feasts and Seasons (Castalia House)
Slates: Rabid Puppies only
Trigger warnings: assisted suicide
Synopsis: Jacob Frontino is a 1930s-era gumshoe in Metachronopolis, the City Beyond Time. He and Queequeg (yes, that Queequeg, from Moby Dick) have been hired by John F. Kennedy (yes, that JFK) to save Marilyn Monroe (yes, that Marilyn Monroe) from one of the Time Wardens. Except that the Time Warden in question appears to be a different version of JFK. Then things start getting confusing ...
My reaction: Kudos to Wright for tackling the tricky job of writing a time-travel-with-loops story and adding the challenge of telling it in reverse chronological order. The concept of Metachronopolis is fascinating, and the fourth paragraph of the "afterword" is a thing of beauty.
Alas, most of the story looks like Wright was trying for a hard-boiled noir style - and not pulling it off. Once again, there are glaring failures of editing (e.g., "She is the most famous actresses of all time"). There are also remarkable failures of imagination (seriously, of all the women throughout all of time, the two "best looking" ones just happened to be 20th century Hollywood actresses?) And there's no explanation ever given for why there's a mix of historical and fictional characters running around Metachronopolis.
The good news, I suppose, is that we don't get the large doses of Things Which Must Be Important Because All The Words In Their Names Are Capitalized that I'd come to expect from Wright's other works. But multiple copies of JFK and Marilyn Monroe aren't that big an improvement, at least not the way Wright handles them here.
Below No Award.
Originally posted at http://edschweppe.dreamwidth.org/198082.html - comment wherever you please.