The Indelible Dark • 2013 • SF novelette by William Browning Spencer

★★+

Summary: Noel lives off authoring detective stories. Now, that he’s switched to a dystopian SF story, the new setting intrudes into his life:

“Meditate on karma, my friend. The dark gets on us, and it’s indelible and we pass it along. You carry the suicide virus in your heart, and any chance encounter can infect others.”

Review: This metafiction isn’t easy to decipher. The narration switches tiers from chapter to chapter back and forth, sometimes lingering within the author’s reality, sometimes in the dystopia. It soon becomes clear, that not only the author writes the story but the story influences the author, just like the circular karma: „Our world has a fondness for the circular. That is karma, after all.“ The dark stains that seem to follow the author don’t seem to be coincidence, but the story leaves many threads dangling.

I liked the conceptual structure, but neither characters nor narration, nor structure sticked with me. I wasn’t tempted to think long about it.

Meta: isfdb. Published in Subterranean, Spring 2013. Read in The Best of Subterranean. Available online.

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