Critique of "Climbing Twilight" by DM Rowles

Story by JD Williams


What a lovely story! It is almost perfect. You did a great job in creating an alien being. (“Redwoods” make me think “Big foot” makes me think “Past or Future earth” but no matter; maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.) And on a deeper level, of course, the story is about the need we all have to be able to say goodbye to a loved one. So the story uses the genre to deal with a human problem. That’s what good sf is all about for me -- but I am a product of the 60s, don’t forget...Delaney, Ballard, Aldiss, Ellison, Russ, LeGuin, Disch, Moorcock etc.

May I point out a couple of places where I was pulled out of the narrative by a word choice or construction? (A story this good leaves me no choice but to go over it with my patentpending WordFreakoScope.) I wish I could get the hang of cutting and pasting from a text document -- I have to rely on my notes and memory here. Anyway -

“Papa-Mama who grew weak and fragile with each passing day” better as “weaker and more fragile”.

“Eyes bordered by tears.”(Rimmed? Framed? Well, those aren't good either...)

At one point you say “shot like thunder” and at another you say “flowed like lightening” -- both of these similes bothered me. I don’t think of thunder as shooting. It rumbles, crashes; and lightening doesn’t flow.

I suggest a space break before “long years after”.

So the narrator returns to “continue the history of the race. Not really. He/she returns to perpetuate the species. I love the fact that the attempt was a “failure” and produced a male and a female.

There is one fragment that doesn’t work. “Terrified that I might never bear a child.”

I would take out “Somehow she had discovered what I had done.” That is obvious.

General stuff --

The whole story is really embodied in the very beginning (“I let go.”)

I confess I got a little impatient with the death scene. We know what was up with the reverse/transfer. Maybe you shouldn’t explain it quite so much.

I may be rushing this critique a little bit, but I wanted to be the first to say, “Beautiful work, Jim. Touching, thought-provoking, sophisticated. Bravo!”