Paul Di Filippo. I’ll Follow the Sun. (Fantasy and Science Fiction Nov/Dec 2014)

fsf14112According to the editorial introduction, the story is a sly homage to a classic SF story, recently made in the film ‘Predistination’. I’ve not seen that film, nor the recent film ‘Predestination’, and a quick google pointed me Heinlein’s story ‘”-All You Zombies-“‘, a time travel story from way back in 1959 that sounds like it could well have been written by a contemporary writer who travelled back in time, as the issues in it are a bit ‘out there’ for the 1950s.

So, leaving all that stuff aside, we have a time travel story from PDF, an author whose output story-wise, is far below what I would like. He riffs on some other shit as well, as the story features Chan Davis, mathematician and SF writer (who is in The Real Worldtm), who has an alter ego (or at least a costume) of Doctor Strange (I was never into Marvel/DC comics but my younger brother was so I picked up stuff from the comics he left lying around – and I always felt Doctor Strange just a little dubious – having what I would probably identify now as a rather camp theatricality about him).

PDFs story follows a young man in the 1960s who is encouraged by Prof Davis to dodge the Vietnam draft by heading forward in time, to return once the war is over, through the use of D-Space. Young Dan Wishcup heeds this advice, leaving his girl behind, but finds life in 2014 – far shallower and debauched than he would have ever dreamed, with the opportunities the past five decades largely ungrasped. I can sympathise with Dan’s feelings, although it’s taken me 50 years of real time to travel from the mid-1960s to the mid-2010s.

In the end the doesn’t travel back in time, but is reunited with his ex-girl, his ex-girl’s husband (guess who), and his ex-girl’s daughter. And the Dr Strange outfit is worn again.

I’m not entirely sure there’s that much riffing on the Heinlein story more than many other time travel stories, but it’s fun, although Heinlein’s story if it were published today would probably cause more offence than this story, in an issue which the editor describes as dealing with ‘touchy themes’ or going beyond the bounds of Political Correctness.

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