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THE SILVER WIND
By NINA ALLAN (Eibonvale; 2011)

There's never been a time travel account like THE SILVER WIND. It's ostensibly a collection of five stories (three of them previously published) that all have definite links. This to say that several characters recur in varying guises and time frames, with a mysterious watch turning up in each tale and causing all sorts of odd disruptions. Yet what ultimately makes these stories sing is the author's unerringly observant, character-driven writing style.

     The opening piece is "Time's Chariot," in which the teenaged Martin is given a Longines watch. He calls it "My first time machine" for reasons that are made clear in the story's final pages. Martin also carries on an incestuous relationship with his sister Dora, a subject that's brought up again in the forth story "Rewind," which picks up Martin's exploits several years later. But before that we get "My Brother's Keeper," which depicts Martin in a different guise; here his "first time machine" is a Smith watch, and he's haunted by the ghost of his deceased brother. What exactly is going on?

     An answer of sorts is provided in the third tale "The Silver Wind," wherein Martin, now a widowed man who discovers yet another special watch, meets a dwarf named Owen Andrews, the creator of said watch. Andrews has discovered the secrets of time travel, and his talents are being utilized by the government to divert the course of time into various alternate realities to avert a future catastrophe.

     Of course this doesn't in any sense "explain" the book's enigmatic happenings. As SF novelist Tricia Sullivan makes clear in her introduction, THE SILVER WIND is all about "holes, mismatches and transgressions," and "insists on being what it is, which is a question mark."

     Adding to the strangeness is a mysterious ex-circus performer who recurs in at least two of the stories, and may or may not be Owen the dwarf in a different guise. Then we have the final piece "Timelines," about a brother and sister possessing yet another watch. Are they Martin and Dora in another guise or someone completely different? Truthfully I'm not sure, but it's an enigma that seems worth pondering. 

     

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