Friday, October 12, 2018

Birthday Review: Short Fiction of Mark Tiedemann

Today is my friend Mark Tiedemann's birthday. I've enjoyed Mark's writing for a long time (since well before we knew each other), and so here's a collection of my Locus reviews of his short work. (I have some novel reviews as well, which I will post later.) I should mention one more particularly excellent story, from before my time as a reviewer: "The Playground Door", from the May 1993 F&SF.

(Locus, April 2003)

The April F&SF opens with a strong novelette by Mark W. Tiedemann, "Scabbing". Rich is a boy growing up in a strong union family in the near future, when workers operate "surrogates", robots under their control. When Rich's father suffers a major stroke, the medical treatment includes technological augmentation of his brain, which raises concerns that his augment might lead to new capabilities, and violations of union rules. The story turns on how this affects Rich's relationships with his friends, and on the scary potential for misuse of his father's new augment. This story effectively looks at social changes resulting from new technology, and directly at how they affect people. I'd like to see more stories in the same milieu.

(Locus, January 2004)

The centerpiece of the Fall 2003 issue of Black Gate is Mark W. Tiedemann's "Miller's Wife", an impressive novella. Egan Ginter is fleeing another failed relationship in the big city: he hopes a couple of weeks at a friend's house in the Ozark town Saletcroix will heal him. But something odd is going on -- Saletcroix's valley is dying, and a bad run of luck is plaguing the townspeople. They blame Esther Miller, who has left her husband. Some believe the health of her marriage is tied to the valley's health, but Egan thinks that's rank superstition. Especially as her husband appears to be rather a thug. And when Esther shows up at Egan's door ... Well, any reader can see that Egan had better not give in to her attractions. But how can he resist? Tiedemann maintains the suspense very well, and resolves the story just that little bit unexpectedly to make it memorable.

(Locus, September 2004)

In Mark W. Tiedemann's "Rain from Another Country" (F&SF, September), Ann Myref is dead, but she has unfinished business. She handles this by making a copy of her brain state and "overlaying" it on a paid host. One such host journeys off Earth to meet Ann's old lover. But he may not be ready to accept what Ann has to offer. A nice use of a couple of SFnal tropes to tell an effective relationship story.

(Locus, November 2005)

Mark W. Tiedemann’s "Hard Time" (Electric Velocipede, Summer) is a well-done story about an actor portraying a prisoner in a sort of quasi-reality show -- all the viewers see is his time in his cell. Slowly we learn a little bit about the actor himself, about the (real) criminal he portrays, about an actress playing a woman criminal. Interesting and very honest -- a good use of SF for a character study.

(Locus, December 2014)

Mark W. Tiedemann is the author of a fine Space Opera trilogy, The Secantis Sequence, that deserves a wider audience (perhaps affected a bit by the implosion of its publisher, Meisha Merlin), as well as some strong stories in places like SF Age and F&SF. He hasn't been entirely silent the past several years, but he hasn't been as much in evidence as I'd like, so it's nice to see a new collection, Gravity Box, with a few reprints (including his outstanding early story "The Playground Door"), but mostly original stories. My favorites include one fantasy and one SF story. "Preservation" is about a gamekeeper in service to a King who commands him to poach the horn of an einhyrn, reputed to determine if a woman is a virgin. The King wants to make sure his son's intended bride is pure, but it's soon clear that dirtier politics than that are involved. Not to mention that the einhyrn are a protected species. Solid adventure, and involving characters. I liked "Forever and a Day" even more, a time dilation story, about a woman in a polyamorous marriage, who turns out to be unable to tolerate new treatments conferring immortality. Her husband and wife become immortal, while she joins the crew of a starship, gaining a sort of immortality due to time dilation. A cute idea in itself, though hardly new, but the story asks effectively how any relationship can survive centuries -- indeed, how one's relationship with ones own self can survive centuries, and whether immortality is better than the sort of continual revivification star travel might bring.

No comments:

Post a Comment