Nick Wood. Bridges. (Albedo One #40)

A longer story than is often the case in the small presses, which is a big help, as otherwise the author hasn’t got room to let the story breathe. Wood makes good use of the space available to him, detailing a psychologist, a white South African, and one of his clients, a black South African. I mention this as the background to the story is a South Africa in which apartheid did not fall when it did. The conversations between the two are the strongest elements of the story (Wood is a psychologist himself). The sfnal element is that the psychologist has invented, with a colleague, a device which enables two individuals hooked up to it to experience the other’s emotions and to see life through their eyes, and to empathise with them, giving rise to ethical issues. The story goes off at a tangent towards the end, with the secret police getting involved (and getting uninvolved rather too easily!), whereas I would have liked to have seen the crux of the story remaining with the relationship between psychologist and patient against the background of a still-apartheid South Africa.

But it’s a good piece of writing, and good to see a longer, intelligent story in a small press mag, with a setting that has remained a human one, rather than trying to make it a xeno-psychological/lingual story.

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