Saturday, April 1, 2017

"The Visitor From Taured" by Ian R Macleod

"The Visitor From Taured" by Ian R Macleod 

I read this story in the "The Best Science Fiction of The Year Vol. 2" edited by Neil Clarke.  This story was originally published in "Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine" September 2016 issue. (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/pl.cgi?584802) 

This was a love story at the heart of it.  Trying to find yourself and find out who you are runs a close second.  If you mix them up in a bowl really fast you get this story.  The story was a kind of platonic friendship, with the sexual tension always in the air, and ideas and dreams of what could be. 

The story is from the perspective of a college age girl named Lita.  She is telling a story about a man she met named Rob Holm.  Lita was majoring in Analogue Literature and Rob Holm was majoring in Astrophysics.  They were worlds apart in their interests, or so she thought anyway. 

After one night of dancing together at a club they became acutely aware of each other.  And so after that they slowly worked themselves into each others lives little by little.  One day as she passed by his room he asked her if she wanted to rent a house together with some other people.  Agreeing,  they ended up living together for awhile while in college. 

While at a bonfire party one night she asked Rob Holm to teach her about astrophysics because she knew nothing about what he was learning.  He made a deal that if she taught him about analogue literature he would teach her about astrophysics.  She decided to teach him about books and literature in exchange for him showing her what astrophysics were.  Agreeing to help each other they went about their merry lives. 

Lita learned about Rob Holm's parents during their talks in his cramped room where they would meet and talk about books.  Rob Holm's mother had contracted a brain infection, most likely from a love of seafood, salmon in particular.  So with the little precious time his parents had left they opened up a ethical marine farm raising scallops on the Isle of Harris.  One day his mother went down to the shore and swam out into the sea only to have her body be found down current on a beach in Creagach the next morning.  

Then one day they went their separate ways.  Rob Holm had received a research post in Heidelberg and Lita was teaching English to kids in Seoul.  Lita was hired by a media conglomerate soon after she started teaching and rose quickly through the ranks. After her jobs in media she decided to open up a media consultancy. 

Rob Holm was skipping to post after post just barely making ends meet.  He was becoming an ever present student.  Lita on the other hand was now making money hand over fist and doing quite well for herself.  She bought a nice place to live in a new hi-res building and created a grand library.   

Getting back in touch with Rob Holm, Lita found out that his father had died a week earlier due to a boating accident and drown.  Rob Holm told her he decided to ditch the research and take over the family business.  He was going to say on the Isle of Harris and farm scallops.  He had enough of the research posts. 

Trying to help Rob Holm Lita came up with an idea.  She pitched it to Rob Holm over one of their meetings.  She was wanting to do a science show and wanted Rob Holm to be the front man.  Hesitantly he agreed.  Soon Rob Holm was rich and had plenty of money and fame.  That was all he needed to begin his grand experiment.  The job was just a means to an end and he never forgot that.  Eventually he quit the show and moved back to the Isle of Harris to farm scallops and work on his project. 

Eventually Lita went out to the Isle of Harris and join Rob Holm for the day of reckoning for his experiment.  He showed her everything he was doing and what he was expecting from the experiment.  If he succeeded in his experiment it would be a whole new area of research. 

Lita ended up staying with Rob Holm on the Isle for awhile.  They talked and grew closer.  The day of the experiment arrived. It came and went.  Did his experiment turn out?  Or did it fail miserably?  Did the woman finally get the guy or did they just stay good friends?  I'll let you finish the story and find out. 

This was a great story.  It had me turning page after page to find out what was going to happen next.   

The characters were developed and complex.  I really felt for Lita throughout the story and you couldn't help feeling for Rob Holm on his quest for science.  He wanted so much and finally ended up with the means to prove his theory.  The sexual tension was also very thick throughout the book.  I found that to be good tension for the story and it added to the conflict of the overall arc of the story. 

I have purposely left out what "The Visitor From Taured" means.  It would give too much of the story away.  I love the metaphor used for the little story in juxtaposition to the main story.  It was cleverly done and was very apt to the story and the ending as well.  A great love story.  A great Sci-Fi story.  A great story

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