Short Fiction Review: The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere

by John Chu

waterfall

Every so often I like to read a stand-alone short story; one that isn’t necessarily part of a writer’s collection or taken from a multi-author anthology. A case in point is a 6,655-word composition I chanced upon while skimming Goodreads recently. It piqued my interest sufficiently for me to take time out from the novel I was then reading.

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu first appeared on Tor.com in 2013 – a “publisher neutral” website aimed at sci-fi and fantasy readers – before going on to win the Hugo Award for Best Short Story the following year.

Almost as soon as I started reading, I realised it would be difficult to accurately fit this tale into a single genre because it was equally at home under the lgbtq+ fiction heading. Indeed, this very issue had caused (and continues to cause) consternation amongst the purists who felt it should never have won a competition voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention. Nevertheless, as a piece of imaginative writing, it seems to have proved enduringly popular with short story lovers.

John Chu is a writer, translator and podcast narrator who earns his living as a microprocessor architect. In his story we enter a future world where a deluge of freezing cold water plummets from the sky on to the head of any person telling a lie (evasiveness merely turns the air muggy). The downpour, however, serves only as a backdrop to the main narrative, which is about a loving relationship between two young men and the problems one of them has coming-out to his traditional Chinese parents.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, but I found it heart-warming and original. The ideal mini, literary interlude.

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere was also published in Some of the Best From Tor.com, 2013 Edition (Tor.com Anthologies).

This story is freely available to read at Tor.com.
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Book Review: Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson

It is difficult to know how to define Life After Life, Kate Atkinson’s 2013 Costa Book Award winning novel. It is part Historical Fiction because of its authentic depiction of English life both during and between the World Wars, however, since the protagonist is repeatedly reincarnated into the same life, it could more precisely be placed in the Sci-fi sub genre category of Time Travel.

It all begins (and keeps beginning) on 11th February 1910, during a particularly heavy snow storm, but the end date varies according to what at first appear to be quite minor decisions on the part of Ursula – the third child of Sylvie and Hugh Todd – which only too often lead to devastating, life-changing and not infrequently tragic consequences for herself and those around her.

This is a book about second chances and what-ifs. It also reveals hidden secrets, explores love in its myriad forms and displays sheer British pluckiness in the face of nightly bombing raids during the Blitz. All this is borne with understated humour and stiff upper lip by the Todd family as they move through varying versions of the same life.

Kate Atkinson’s ingenious novel shows us how small changes of behaviour can have seismic repercussions throughout history. She also left me wondering how some of the terrible events of the 20th century might have been avoided.

Incidentally, this is the first in a duology about the Todd family, the second being A God in Ruins (2015).