Monday, September 21, 2009

"The Inn at Mount Either" by James Van Pelt

I didn't like this story at all. It's built around an interesting premise (a isolated mountain Inn where the lodgers can travel to parallel realities and enjoy a whole range of worlds), but it doesn't really take off for me from there. The relationship between the main character, Dorian, and his wife, Stephanie, is mildly touching, and the parallel worlds are well-described (I think this is one of Van Pelt's strengths, actually), but the overall story just leaves me cold.

I think this is because it falls into the trap of the "surprise" ending that is so common to science fiction. Like so many stories before it, the protagonist realizes, just a little to late, that something has gone terribly wrong. It's just been done so many times before, and mostly just reminds me of the premise for a Twilight Zone episode. Van Pelt does put a bit of an original spin on it by pulling off the twist in such a way that the reader isn't entirely sure that something is wrong or that Dorian is just being paranoid, but it just isn't enough for me.

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