Review: Time and Tide By Alan Peter Ryan

I rarely write about stories I hate. Mostly because I believe that, especially in writing, disliking something is at least partially the fault of the reader. I know that is true of Time and Tide by Alan Peter Ryan. A story I am certain many people like that made me actually yell get to the damn point out loud while I was reading it.

So this review will be more about two different types of storytelling than it is about the story itself. The storytelling that Time and Tide employees, and I assume that Alan Peter Ryan uses in most of his work is filled with detail. He tells the reader how many drawers are in the wardrobe, how many rooms are in the house, the restaurants down the street and the book that a character is reading, none of which are important.

The story is about the death of Junior, the brother of the main character. It tells you this early in the story which is necessary because literally nothing happens in the story for the first four thousand words. I understand that there are people who want this level of detail. The problem is for me that when an author does this to me they are forcing their vision over-top of mine which is frustrating to someone who doesn’t need their descriptions and more than that they aren’t telling a story.

Another thing that bothers me is the fault of the editor more than the writer. That is that I was reading this in the magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but there is little more than a hint of anything that is fantastical. This is at least the second story in this magazine that has nothing in it to make it fit into the magazine I am reading except for some small bit of physiological horror which could be considered supernatural if you’re so inclined.

I won’t spoil the end of the story because I understand the value of this story and know that there are plenty of people who will like or even love it and perhaps it is my fault. Though I think I have to give some blame to the magazine editor who picked out well-written and smart stories, but also picked out things that were so wildly different, and often not what I am expecting from the magazine I’m reading that it is both jarring and almost guarantees that no one will like everything here.

There are two types of readers, though who want every detail spelled out and those who want only the most important. And I admit that reading Time and Tide I could see what was happening better than in many stories. I can picture the lifeguards and the stone slabs replacing the grass. The problem is that I don’t read a story for the scenery, but if you do, then you can find Time and Tide in the September 2011 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. Sadly, there are no links today as the author of this story passed away.