The Girl & The Machine – Beth Revis

girlmachineFrom Goodreads.com: This short story follows Franklin, a time traveler with limited abilities: He can only travel into the past within his own lifetime. And then a girl shows up in his life. She claims to have met a future version of himself, and that the machine she invented will help him to go anywhere in the past or the future without limitations. When Heather shows Franklin the machine, she ensures him that they will change the world together and make it a better place. But Franklin can’t help but feel a little ominous about it all…

PLEASE NOTE: This short story is a part of the larger collection of short stories by Beth Revis, entitled The Future Collection.

Published: January 2015

Why I Chose It: Beth Revis gave this short story out free! This is from her email: ” I originally said that I would give a free copy of one of the stories, “The Girl & the Machine” to the first 100 respondents…but that list maxed out in the first six minutes of the campaign! To thank you all for your overwhelming support of my writing, I decided instead to give the short story to the first five hundred respondents. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Review:

I was pretty pumped to receive this story from Beth Revis, as I really enjoy her work. I wanted to see how her writing translates to a shorter medium.

As far as short stories go, I expect to get dropped into the main story pretty fast – there usually isn’t a lot of space for story building. I was surprised when this story seemed to start out very slowly and didn’t seem to be getting to the point. I kept waiting for the big mystery to drop – and while it does, it happens all very fast at the end.

I also had a large concern while I was reading that something felt very off about the story. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t adding up while I was reading. When the ending is finally revealed, the story just made so much more sense! I actually went back and read it again, and this time could appreciate all the minor details that Revis had put into the story. I am actually very impressed with how Revis constructed the story and led up to the final big reveal.

While I don’t want to give anything away, this story is very heavy-handed at the end. There’s a lot of big subject matter shared in a very short space, and it doesn’t leave any room for resolution. I was very taken aback by the abrupt change in topic and mood, but I think that was the point.

This story is meant to shock you.

It is also left without resolution on purpose: I had to go back and re-read the story in order to understand the full picture. This also meant I had to dwell on the subject and reflect on it: the story made me think about it more.

This review is very hard because I didn’t particularly like the story. I didn’t like the slow build up, I didn’t like the characters. And yet I think it has a very strong impact and leaves a lasting impression. The characters, while not likeable, are memorable. So unfortunately this leaves me with a rather conflicted view of this story.

While I think Revis is a very smart writer, and is trying to do something important with her work, I’m just not sure how to react to it. I feel like the longer I reflect on the story, the more I appreciate what Revis is trying to accomplish. I do hope this story will help create a larger conversation for all of us to participate in. I will say that I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the collection, to see what else Revis has created.

Rating: 4 / 5

Quotations:

“Having a girl approach him while studying on a random Tuesday afternoon and telling him his entire life story and informing him casually that he was going to change the world today was definitely a new experience. Time travel was tame in comparison.” Beth Revis. The Girl & the Machine (Kindle Locations 74-76). Scripturient Books.

“He felt rather stupid in front of this girl genius. He should have learned more about his own condition, about the science behind it. He felt like a cancer victim who had never bothered to learn about germs.” Beth Revis. The Girl & the Machine (Kindle Locations 169-171). Scripturient Books.

 

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