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wh[o][y][at][ere][en]&how by Isaac Newton

I am forgetting the past, living in the present and finding my way to the future. 

You would think that being from the future I would have all the answers. Unfortunately not remembering anything before I arrived here, all I have are questions. I’ll keep asking who, why, what, where, when and how until I get some answers. What else can I do? I am forgetting the past, living in the present and finding my way to the future.

An ongoing blogfic, with new posts twice weekly

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Listed: May 24, 2009


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Editorial Reviews


Editor’s First Impression

By Chris Poirier, editor

May 24, 2009: I’m not even going to try to rate this thing. It’s not really a story, from the parts I’ve seen—more a long, (seemingly intentionally) confused, rambling monologue, full of existential angst. If you like that kind of thing, give it a go.

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Most Helpful Member Reviews

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It’s "a tough slog," but there’s something there

By ubersoft, author of A Rake by Starlight

Aug 18, 2011: The short version:

This story was very difficult to review. I only gave it two stars because the description for that is "a tough slog," but half the time I think it deserves more than that. Half the time I think this story is brilliant, or at least approaches brilliance . . . but ultimately I wasn’t able to finish it because it required too much work.

The longer version:

The story is told as a series of blog posts. The protagonist is a time traveler from the future, but he doesn’t know why. Time travel has a price: when you go back in time, you can’t take anything from the future with you because it doesn’t exist. This includes many of your memories, and the protagonist has no memory of most of his past life because it took place in the future. The mystery is: why did the protagonist travel back in time?

I find the basic premise more than intriguing—if I read that synopsis on the back of a paperback I’d buy the paperback on the basis of the premise alone. And the author ("Isaac Asimov") has genuine skill. Unfortunately, the stylistic choices the author made were intentionally confusing and eventually I found it too much work to keep following.

First, there are site design choices that make it difficult to read through the archives. If you click the "Start Reading Now" on the page on this site it will take you to the very first post in this story . . . and once you finish reading it, you have to scroll all the way past the comments and click the left link at the bottom of the page to view the next post. The first time I visited the site I didn’t even see the link, and had no idea how to read the rest of the story. I eventually used the breadcrumbs, but even that was excruciating because I had to go through nine pages of archives to get to the beginning.

The problem is that most blog software navigation places their links opposite of the way you expect to read a book. When I’m reading a story I want to go left to right. I start at the beginning, and as the story progresses I click a link to my right, in a manner similar to turning a page. This story flows like blog archives and blogs are not really designed to sustain narratives. Eventually I acclimated to it but initially it was extremely distracting.

This is combined with the style the author chose to use when writing, which is deliberately complex and obscure. It is very stream-of-consciousness, almost like ad-lib beatnik poetry, which focuses mainly on the protagonist musing on the existential nature of his out-of-time circumstances. In each post, however, there is a thread or two of the actual plot, but it’s almost as if the author wants to you really work hard to understand what’s going on.

I can respect that choice, and I can imagine there are readers who like doing that, but I don’t agree with that choice because I’m not that kind of reader. The harder I have to work to understand a story the more frustrated I get as a reader and the more I have to assess if I want to keep going. Eventually I decided I didn’t.

But I still felt I needed to review it, because even though I can’t accurately consider myself a fan I do have to say that it’s fascinating. I rated it as a "tough slog" because in my case it really was, but if you’re someone who likes puzzles you may get much more out of this than I did. I ultimately gave up on the story, but I did so with regret rather than relief, and I still want to know why the guy traveled back in time.

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