Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Attachments by Kate Wilhelm
Fiction Friday: Attachments (Kate Wilhelm In Memoriam Special)
It’s been a rough week for Science nerds, especially Science Fiction fans. Kate Wilhelm, Mary Rosenblum (who I just discovered is another Long Islander like myself) and of course, Stephen Hawking. I’ve been heavily inspired by Mr. Hawking’s success, but I want to focus on a specific author this week. Kate Wilhelm’s last appearance was very recent. In fact, the November/December 2017 issue of F&SF magazine was her last fiction appearance with the Novelette, Attachments, so we’re going back in time to review that.
So this is Attachments by Kate Wilhelm, has appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine. I usually link to the stories, but seeing as this is a back issue now, I’ll link to that. I always try to do more recent stories from current issues, but if a back issue is available, I’ll link to that. I can only review so much and have only a few days out of the week to do it. An eventual goal of mine is to review the whole magazine rather than one story, but for now, I’ll stick with this. This is still new to me and I don’t want to push myself just yet.Also, I don’t do these too often, but sometimes, I’ll feature writers that have recently passed, to celebrate the works they brought to us and their impact on the world. I feel it’s a good way to remember those we’ve lost.
Anyway, let’s begin with some another ghost story.
The story revolves around a woman named Drew Charnov who has a run-in with a pair of ghosts who both desire something, but are bound to the apartment Drew is staying at. The main ghost, a man from the late 1800s, seeks a treasure somewhere in the US and both Timothy and Drew must grant the specter’s wishes before he fades from existence.
It’s fairly straightforward, but it’s an entertaining story. While it doesn’t do anything new, it does a good job of keeping me invested in the characters as they search for lost treasure. The dynamic between the cast is interesting to read and the matter of fact description makes it entertaining and a joy to read.
Seeing Drew try to comprehend the fact that ghosts exist is interesting enough, though I don’t think it’s explained how she sees them. My guess is because Timothy can materialize, but that still doesn’t explain a heck of a lot. I might have missed something in the story, but it’s the one thing that kind of bugged me.
Though trying to interact with society without giving away that she’s dealing with ghosts is interesting enough, but I felt it could have given the situation more gravity in potentially exposing Timothy’s existence, even if no one believed her.
That’s just me, though. I did enjoy the story overall, even if, again, it’s simple.
While I won’t go into any specific characters, the cast worked well together. You had Drew, who was confident and smart, Timothy, whose commanding and out of touch with time itself, and Robert, a crazy man who causes people left and right. The array of characters are unique enough to make them memorable and I could easily see this being adapted into a movie.I always look at short stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end, and those are the kinds of stories I enjoy the most. Almost like a mini book with a small cast that there’s a clear story with all the elements rolled into one. This is one of those stories that makes it work and feels like a cinematic story playing out in my head.While there isn’t much to add that isn’t already in the story, the characters made the story entertaining.
The writing is succinct and matter-of-fact. It gives off this “refined lady” of wit and calmness that made the story interesting. It was also pretty clear. The character descriptions, however, seem a little flat. It’s very specific. Character A had this, that, and looked like this. Character B looked like that, this and looked like that. I admit, I used to write that way, but it feels a little off and considering how well the writing is otherwise, I felt it was a negative for me.
The description, in general, is fine. I was able to follow it well, though I did get lost at points. Overall, the writing, while not huge, is a nice touch.
Overall, it’s a good story to go out on, but I’m sure there’s plenty in her back catalog that could be contenders. I hope you give the story a shot and remember the many greats we lost this past week.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
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