Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Flight

I've recently got an iPad and the first thing I did was downloaded the iBooks application. Then I proceeded to search for free books that I could start reading. I love sci-fi and so that genre was my first stop.

I saw a four star rating for the short story 'First Fligh' and while I downloaded it I was skeptical about the rating given by others given that this is a free story. But I was pleasantly surprised. 'First Flight' is a 2010 Locus award winner and deserves the recognition. In a short span of 30 odd pages it captures the essence of a beautiful story with a clear beginning, a wonderful middle and an expected but refshing ending.

At it's essence 'First Flight' is a time travel story. Mary brings out the essence of time travel and deals with the complexities of this idea in a beautiful simplistic manner. No large quadratic equations and time travel morals here. It limits itself to the fact that you can travel only to the time that You have been alive and hence limits you automatically to your lifespan. A beautiful way to avoid you wanting to visit the Dinosaur age or bring back an Ugly Neandrethal kid that you might love.

So we have an old woman sent back in time to capture the historic third flight of the Wright brothers. The flight that stayed up in the air for over 18 mins and was the genesis of the idea that long distance air travel was possible. Of course the story can't be that simple and so we have the protagonist taliking to a boy and then disappearing on him. Therein lies the problem because you can't change history and so you have to go back to the exact time and explain the disappearance to the boy. The story deals with that conundrum while at the same time exposing one of the Wright brother to the advanced technology.

Does the boy understand the explanation of time travel given by a haggard old woman? Does the Wright brother accept the advanced technology? How does that impact the airplane thought? Mary deals beautifully with the thoughts and weaves history into mystery, nostalgia, maturity and benevolence to come up with a cracking Horton story.

I'm glad I downloaded this one and rate it 4/5 like a lot othes only because I would love to see this idea developed into a longer novel.

Here's to the iPad for this wonderful story.

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