Ray Nayler. Mutability. (Asimovs June 2015)

asimovs1506An intriguing story from Nayler, evidently an American who has spent some/a lot of time in Europe, and there’s a very European feeling to this story. I’d have guessed it a translation from a European author, ahead of it being from an American. I’d also have confidently identified it as a story from Interzone ahead of Asimovs.

It has a touch of a classic French film, in black and white, set primarily in a cafe, music in the background, some shared glances. Nothing much is explained – it’s (presumably) in the 2300s, and the people in the city are living good lives, but there’s something missing. It’s memory that’s missing, but not in a stressed, angry Alzheimer’s way, but more matter of fact, a gallic shrug of the shoulders, a raised eyebrow as the coffee is sipped.

An old photograph appears, showing a man and a woman who believe themselves to be strangers to have had a past, long ago. And long forgotten…. But there’s no real resolution, the cafe keeps serving it’s customers, and the chess board remains in use…

More from this issue here.

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