Time Travel Short Story Review

The Card
by Gene Wolfe
Published in March 2005 Asimov's Science Fiction


The Card relates how the lives of police officer Augie and a homeless man "Billyboy" Anton are intertwined. Anton's discovery of a holy card with a prayer to a beatified Wilhem Boyd Anton, complete with his own portrait and details of his death at the hands of Augie, the police officer. Unable to reconcile this piece of information from a parallel universe, Billyboy roams the street trying to understand how his life could be so different that he would be beatified. For Augie's part he's torn with the knowledge that he's somehow responsible for the the man's death.

The story is told from the perspective of Augie's police partner to a third party.


The Card is a short short from master story teller Gene Wolfe clocking in at less than four pages in length. Sadly, Wolfe's choice of an awkward narrative structure -- essentially a third had narrative of a story once removed -- strips the tale down to its bare bones. It has the unfortuante effect of deflating what might be an other wise enjoyable novella, instead leaving the narrative crippled and essentially amounting to a four page info dump.

Recommened for diehard Wolfe fans only.

Also in the March 2005 edition of Asimov's two other time travel/alternate history stories Wave Function Collapse by Steven Utley, and The Devil You Don't by Matthew Hughes.

2005 - A. Taylor

Review Posted 2005-08-19

R E L A T E D   L I N K S

Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
The website for the magazine offers some excerpts of current issue and other editorials and features from previous editions. Links to manuscript guildlines, subscription info, a reader's forum and a searchable index that covers all short fiction printed in the magazine from 1980-2002.


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