Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sleep Walking Now and Then, by Richard Bowes

I reviewed Richard Bowes' semi-autobiographical World Fantasy Award nominee last year, and found it a little lifeless.  His story nominated this year, Sleep Walking Now and Then, is another matter.  It has the same sensibility as the book, but succeeds by having a different focus.

Bowes describes a New York he knows well, projected forward. It's a harsher, more elegiac place that's more devoted to jaded entertainment than it is in the present. Those entertainments take advantage of the faded glory of the city, and one such is depicted here.

There is technical speculation - in the 2060's we have the option to have our phones literally in our palms, rather than carrying Palms. Maybe not. But the social speculation feels right on. The impresario putting on the entertainment (an immersive one, where the audience is within the show) is probably better off than most, but he's still living from show to show. The actors are a part of the underclass of the city. All will do pretty much anything to keep the run going.

Enjoy this as a dystopian and yet genteel view of the near future. 3 stars from me.

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