Jubilee • 2014 • SF novelette by Karl Schroeder

★★★1/2

This novelette is set in the same universe as Schroeder’s novel Lockstep where whole towns hibernate and wake up every some 31 years for a month – the „Jubilee“.

There are not only hibernated people but also people whose lifes flow in normal time. A whole culture circles around the locksteppers, and this novelette concentrates on a Romeo-Julia pair (without the suicides), divided between unsynchronized lockstepping communities. They only met once, fell in love, and now they write to each other. Realtimers convey messages between them and in the hundreds of years of exchange with 30 years breaks between two messages, they created bookshelves of interpretation, myths and art about them.

The fascinating look from outside at hibernation, contrasting the different societies, is paired by main protagonist Lauren’s search for a new definition of her own life’s purpose: She is the current messenger, but will be too old to deliver the next one – she has to retire.

 

Meta: ISFDB. First published February 2014 in Tor.com. I’ve read it in The Years Best SF #32. It is available online.

 

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