Alexander Jablokov. The Days the Wires Came Down. (Asimovs April/May 2011)

A second consecutive story in Asimovs from Jablokov which didn’t do much for me. Actually, to be truthful, it did do something for me – it disappointed me.

The set up was perfect – classy cover to illustrate a steam-punkish story in which cable cars strung between the tops of high rise buildings are a means of public transport. Great setting, but the story reads almost as an unpolished draft. The editorial intro points out that Jablokov’s inspiration for the story came from a dream he had in his teens, and you could believe that the story was written by his teen self in a mad rush upon waking up.

There’s some clumsy writing – how’s this for a description of the difficulties of being a twin : ‘It was constant battle, what came from being born within fifteen minutes of someone else but still being completely different from him’.

The story quickly speeds the reader through the adventures of the teenage siblings, who through a sheet of old newspaper wrapping a present, quickly (!) unravel a mystery surrounding a fatal cable car crash. It’s impossible to engage with either of the children (the point of view slips between them awkwardly) as they aren’t given any depth, and having them quickly describe historical events, and then relate how they have worked out how those events would actually have unfolded, just didn’t work for me.

All in all, a story below that which I’d expect from Jablokov or Asimovs. Better suited for an anthology aimed at mid-teens or for those adults who enjoy the children’s books featuring Harry Potter.

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