|As noted here, I’m commenting daily on the WMG Holiday Spectacular—which is a great project that releases a story every day. These might be reviews. Or not. They might be interesting. Or … um … not. They will be fun, though. For me, at least.
Here’s the next story.
“A Hollow Earth Thanksgiving”
Robert J. McCarter
I met Robert once for a few days, but even with only this short exposure it’s still hard for me to not smile when I hear his name. He seems like such a great person. Bright eyes. Sunny disposition. He’s a really interesting writer, too. Shortly after meeting him I grabbed a book of his at random and was blessed to run into Drawing the Dead, which I thought was quite nice and which I recommend you pick up.
That aside, “A Hollow Earth Thanksgiving” is something completely different from “Drawing the Dead.” Its introduction labels it a “Jules Verne-ese Adventure,” and that nails it. Ultimately this means that I came to it with some trepidation. I can really love these kinds of stories because they send me back to a younger time. But I also know they’ve gone out of favor. Stories like this can be slow to the more modern mind—they require the writer to skirt a boundary of distance from the action most of the time. The narrator is often witnessing more than participating. Description is crucial, and pace is dicey. Make that narrative too distant and your reader falls asleep, too close and it just doesn’t feel right. Think Watson and Holmes, you know? And that’s before we get to the shell game the author has to play when it comes to this kind of presentation—that is, to get me to put aside thoroughly modern sensibilities of my hard science fiction brain.
I am, however, an optimist at heart, and I am also completely willing to be led back to those days of being an almost-young man. All right, Robert, I thought as I waded in. Don’t screw this up.
I’m happy to report that McCarter hits the Golidlocks zone for me. “Hollow Earth Thanksgiving” was a really fun read. Even better, his ending—both the mechanics of events and the emotional core of the result—came as a surprise.
I left the story feeling very thankful indeed, and reminding myself to go get more of Robert’s work.