I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and impartial review
A Time for Dragonflies and Angels by JM Erikson is a compilation of five short stories whose main focus deals with the notion of parallel universes.
Recount Our Dreams: This is the story of a man participating in what was supposed to be a psychology experiment utilising sensory deprivation. Unfortunately, there is an accident elsewhere in the facility, that sends off chain reaction repercussions for all involved., sending them jumping from world to world with each death faced. I found this story interesting. It played with a concept dear to my heart: physics experiments that breach or merge parallel universes. There was a definite Quantum Leap feel going on here. The premise to ‘Recount’ was good, and I found the story intriguing. The language did come across as a bit clunky to me. I feel it could be tightened a bit.
Neurogenesis: This is the story of Robert Wright, a mentally challenged young man who lives in a group home and works as a janitor at MIT. This story again played with the notion of the multiverse. An encounter with people from another universe leaves Robert forever changed, and allows him to finish the work that has stymied the researchers on the floor he tends. This story was a cross between Flowers for Algernon, a book referenced several times within the story, and the X-Files episode ‘Roland’, where a resident of a group home works in a research facility as a janitor. Through extraordinary events Roland is able to complete one of the researchers projects, getting it to work correctly. I enjoyed this story. Flowers is one of my favourite childhood books. I recently snagged a Kindle copy to read again. It’s just so sad! Unlike the last story, ‘Neurogenesis’ had better flow. It wouldn’t hurt to be trimmed down a bit though.
Rogue Event: Here we follow Gabriel and his two children as they explore old ruins in Boston. The world they live in is a somewhat dystopic one, where a corporation rules all, and everyone is expected to be a cog in the great corporate machine. Curiosity is frowned upon, and he and the kids have to keep their excursions from his wife. This story has overtones of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and the movie Equilibrium. Other aspects remind me of Star Trek’s Ferengi society, crossed with Borg practicality. This, too, touches on the multiverse. The rogue planet in a near-course to Earth, the cause for the dystopic civilisation has evolved, happens to be from another universe. Just what is this rogue planet, and where did it come from? Where is it going? What are the consequences to Earth because of it presence?
The Grey: This was a quick little story focusing on an alien survey group observing a planet called Terra Nova 7. The Greys are investigating a pair of hominid species that have evolved together. The grey alien watchers make a deadly choice, with Borg efficiency, before moving on, shifting universes to visit our Earth. Personally, I find this notion that galactic explorers can so easily make choices on what is best for another plenty terrifying.
To See Behind Walls: Here is the story of a young man named Colonel Benjamim Wood, en route to the international space station. He has stopped his shuttle to check the wellbeing of a Chinese astronaut who was running out of air in their damaged shuttle. He risks his very life to protect the shuttle despite being warning away. Why? That is what he’s determined to uncover. I loved Ola, the onboard computer for Ben’s ship!