Saturday, April 2, 2011
Novelette by Alexander Jablokov
Arabella and Andrew are two bickering teenage twins, trying to find a gift for their father on the day before Arabella goes off to school, and the last day before the fun aerial-trolley system around the city closes down. While going about their errand, they witness several scenes in the personal life of their driver, and uncover a story from the glorious past of this rooftop trolley system.
The setting, and particularly the mode of transit around this early-twentieth-century world provide a very colorful backdrop, and are worked out in excellent detail. The imagery of various stops is well described. But I wasn't all that interested in any of the three stories, besides that they are well written. The whole thing seemed a bit long and boring. I did really enjoy getting to explore the world, but I'm not sure the kids' errand was the best way to tell the story Jablokov seemed to most want to tell.
I do agree with the author that this is not a steampunk story, despite the level of technology. And this makes me happy, because I'm getting a bit sick of steampunk, and a lot of the sillier tropes are the ones that always seem to show up. This story has no such predilection towards silly pseudo-Victorianism. Huzzah!
That said, the story was not interesting to me, forcing the piece to rely on awesome setting and quality of writing alone. Fortunately, these are both quite good, unfortunately, that only goes so far. I am looking forward to more stories in this setting, though. But for now...
3 cable cars out of 5.
P.S. I love the cover art, though it isn't entirely accurate; the full version can be found here. Check it out.