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8.29.2010

Cat Valente's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time"

Tomorrow begins a new term at the college, and my first foray into teaching literature over a sixteen-week term. As I was mapping out a plan for the term, I rounded up my usual collection of stories available for free online. I use stuff from Doctorow and Palahniuk, and many of the classics can be found online. It's a great boon to the world of letters, that level of access.

I try to read widely online, and boy did I ever come across a great story recently. Cat Valente's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time" is a beautiful story--a strong marriage of elegant prose and keen content. It's a science fiction story that really transcends the science, using it more as an ancillary to a metaphysical core that really can't, for all of our attempts, be easily explained.

It's science and faith and philosophy, encapsulated within a great structure (the chapter headings build upon each other, and make their lessons both accessible and distinct). It's heady stuff, but the structure and tone contribute to one of the better, more impactful tales I've read this year (Peter Beagle's "Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros" is also in that group, as is Piccoult's "Weights and Measure" and Gaiman's "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains").

Do yourself a favor and take a look at that story. It's about beginnings and endings, and it makes me want to give my daughter a kiss while she's asleep in the next room over...

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