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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book excerpt: Where by Kit Reed

Kit Reed  

From the excerpt alone, this novel is difficult to categorize without reading further. It splits the narrative between two lovers torn apart by a mysterious event.

David Ribault, or Davy, is suspicious of a perfect-haired and -suited guy, whom Davy spotted stealing a Lexus from downtown Charlton, South Carolina. Later, at a party he learns the man's name is Rawson Steele, whom others seem attracted to. The stranger insists Davy meet up with him, and they set a five o'clock appointment the following morning.

The stranger doesn't show. Davy waits until traffic, sirens, and police commotion stirs him to leave. He feels guilt leaving Merrill, his girlfriend alone back home on the island without telling her his whereabouts, especially after their spat.

It turns out, however, that the commotion stems from the island. Bridges to it have been blocked. The residents have all disappeared. Davy will do whatever he can to get on the island and to his girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Merrill and the residents of the village find themselves watching their own disappearance on video news feeds, just outside a white replica of their own village--except surrounded by desert. When Merrill's father, formerly a respected judge, demands their unseen captors stop and explain themselves, the captors turn off the news feeds. As quickly the villagers turned rabid, they soften and file off to their respective homes.

This is a quirky bit of speculative fiction. This is familiar SF territory (if SF): aliens whisk humans off to a strange prison where the humans are meant to confront some vital aspect of their existence or humanity. The novel seems to take its speculation seriously, so it may not be interstitial, but whether it's SF, fantasy, or science fantasy, is unclear from this brief excerpt. What is clear is that this is a novel worth looking into. The only flaw is the leap into Davy's suspicions without a sense of Davy's character. But Reed quickly masters this qualm.

Note: A related short story, reprinted in this volume, appeared in Asimov's (discussed on the 28th).

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