Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Short Story by Ian Werkheiser

This is Werkheiser's SF debut and while it isn't my top pick of the issue, he is certainly a new writer to watch.

Joe Novak was a musical prodigy, but when his piano virtuoso father died in a car crash, he stopped playing altogether. Down on his luck and out of money, he has taken a job helping a technology company reproduce his father's music. But it turns out they want to synthesize his style and build machines to effectively recreate his talent. This leads to some internal conflict, both about his father's legacy, and about their relationship before he died.

This is a moving story with an emotional ending. But Werkheiser fails to expand on what I felt was the most significant line of the whole thing, the segment where Joe has been practicing remembering how the songs were played so many times that his memories and emotional connections have begun to fade and the songs are now just rote memory actions:
"He felt like this was the way he was always supposed to have felt about life, as if it were a light stone held in an open hand, rather than a hot, heavy coal clutched burning to his chest."
This sense of well-being and freedom from the loss of emotional memories, that double-edged sword of "getting over it" and forgetting painful memories, but also not thinking as much about the good things seemed like the Werkheiser was going somewhere very interesting. But he mostly dropped Joe's changes with the admittedly good concluding breakdown. I'd have liked to see a bit more depth and exploration here.

The one other problem is that some of the sentences are painfully convoluted, creating confusion and a bad flow. But there are some nice bits of language too, and I quite like the musical theme that runs through the whole thing, even the structure of the narrative. So it isn't perfect or even the best in the issue, but this story is pretty good, definitely worth reading, and it marks Werkheiser as a writer to look out for in the next couple years. 3.5 out of 5.

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