Thursday, January 21, 2010

California Burning

Novelette by Michael Blumlein

A man is having his father cremated, but for some reason the bones won't burn. In the allegorical background, California has a bunch of wildfires and gets all smoky.

This is an emotional story about the unnamed first person protagonist learning to cope with not knowing some things about his father, with an implied SF explanation. Handles the whole grief thing remarkably well while you almost don't notice the otherworldly aspect; I could imagine this happening with one of my dead relatives easily. The thing that stands out most about the writing is that the "action" of the scenes is moved along entirely with dialogue. For a slow, sad story, boredom is avoided remarkably well, and I am prone to boredom in a story like this. An impressive feat, at least to me. If you want an example in excellent dialog writing, this would be a good one.

Despite all that, I'm not really moved to emotion, and nothing really happens. Masterfully written, but not interesting enough, 4 out of 5.

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