In a well thought out science fiction story one solution leads to several new problems just as it does in the real world. That seems to be the case in Freudian Slipstream by Brad Aiken a futuristic science fiction story where humanity has found a solution to some of its problems, but the world keeps turning and Jackson Carr has a new problem that needs solved.
This story has a leisurely pace. This alone with the tone fits the story well as it quickly becomes clear that the idyllic beach setting of the story is more than it seems as each day Jackson Carr goes to a small bar where he is the only customer until a beautiful woman arrives on her horse, has a drink and then leaves while Jackson has increasingly odd conversations about his dreams with the bartender.
From the title and the oddness it becomes clear quickly that this is all happening in Jackson’s mind. But you still don’t know why and the rest of the story explains. Humanity has built spaceships to travel to a new world, finding a solution to the slow death of the earth. But the trips is long and limited by the amount of supplies you can take so they found a solution. Suspended animation, which if used to long causes physical and mental collapse due to atrophy. Now, four problems deep we come into the story where Jackson is trying to solve an issue with particularly dangerous wildlife on this new planet.
Without giving away everything the dreamlike feel of the story is because he is in a dream, but in this dream there is work to be done and yet another solution to be found.
This is a good story that does a great job using tone and pacing to tell the story. The dreamlike feel of the early prose was excellent though I probably would have been temped to put more dream logic into the early story, but that may have weakened the ending and that would be a shame. If this story interests you, can find it in the December 2011 issue of Analog magazine, in the collection “Small Doses of the Future” or you can check out his website at BradAiken.com.