Played Your Eyes: A OriginalPlayed Your Eyes: A Original by Jonathan Carroll
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

His handwriting. He bequeathed his handwriting to her.

although it has only happened twice before today, one of my favorite things is seeing jonathan carroll’s name pop up on the free tor short page. and although i am “only” giving this story three stars cats, it’s yet another thought-provoking premise from one of my all-time favorite writers, so it’s not that it was only “meh” or anything; it just felt like it needed a few more turns in carroll’s rock-tumbler-brain to make it shine.

assorted nonspoilery but confusing to people who haven’t read it (yet) reactions: i know that the character goes through life changes both ordinary and extraordinary between the beginning and end of the story, but some things are psychologically hard-wired, and someone who needs to check the stove multiple times before feeling safe, who washes new clothes because of unknown touches/toxins, who does…whatever that was with the french fries—i just don’t see her making the decision she does at the end. she is someone who feels safer in knowing things, and she is essentially a fearful, fretful person, even though she’s happier now than she has been before. a story this short doesn’t give enough space to develop a character from point a to point b alll the way over there, but it’s definitely something carroll could have done convincingly in a longer book—he ain’t no slouch! between that and not having a strong enough sense of how this…system works, contribution-wise, is what makes this only a medium read for me. i don’t mind not knowing all the answers—carroll always makes sure to leave things a little ambiguous, and i liked this moment in the story very much:

“Who are they?”

If she expected him to say something stunning like God or aliens, she was disappointed. He shook his head and smiled. “I have no idea. The only thing I’ve been told is that the answer is so complex it’s like string theory multiplied by a hundred.”

because i love this habit he has of keeping things vague and refusing to commit to an explanation. but again—it’s a big idea for so short a story, and there’s a lot to process, so to have the character behave against type and the—what to call it?—the technique be veiled in mystery along with the…beneficiaries of the process, well, it’s a pretty idea but it’s too wispy to be a story. i liked it, for all the delicious jc-motifs and phrasings, and i eagerly await more—stories, novels, grocery lists—whatever he’s got rattling around i will devour.

read it for yourself here:…

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