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Life, On the Other Side: A Short Story by…

Life, On the Other Side: A Short Story

by Daniel Powell

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Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: When the bombs fell, they erased the face of the world. They expunged the mind of a civilization, and they forever changed our conceptual understanding of identity.

But there are some who still remember, and Browning is one of them. Still searching for his wife, he is drawn to the edge of the containment barrier and the Silence Virus it was built to contain.

And standing there, the questions are simple: What's left, on the far side of those great iron gates?

Is she still inside?

A quiet tale of life after the apocalypse, "Life, On the Other Side" (3800 words) was originally published in the journal Weber: The Contemporary West. It was reprinted in the collection The Silver Coast and Other Stories.

My Review: It is indeed a quiet tale, and has its charm in that quietude. The idea of the Silence Virus is chilling, and plausible; the idea of a post-nuclear release of an engineered plague is severely depressing though grimly probable.

One of short fiction's big advantages is the ability to cut to the action, making short shrift of the "show, don't tell" writing nostrum. Whip it up, the story shouts at the author, gaff 'em through the gills and land those readers' feelings fast!

Is it probable that a man, brutalized for three long years, can hold on to the idea of rescuing his wife from quarantine? I rather doubt it, but in this short a time-frame it's a moot point. Buy in or blow it off. So I bought in and went with Browning as he went over the quarantine wall. The deep misery of a world that's got no cultural structure, collapsed from mass death and brutal cruelty, becomes numbing. A story makes it possible to process the full impact of the personal devastation before shut-down sets in.

A memorable exploration of the human spirit's foundational hunger for connection. Quite a well-spent half hour.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. ( )
  richardderus | Aug 9, 2014 |
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