I really enjoyed “7C” by Jason Roberts. The story seems to work around a parallel made between high-redshift quasars and the inevitable apocalyptic end of the story. We are told that these quasars are markers of an old universe, the result of the forces of gravity extrapolated of eons of time. Although they take an unimaginable time to form, they are found in the old light coming to Earth from the time just after the universe formed. The reader is told that these quasars appear to be born old. The real trick of this story comes when the author applies this theory of high-redshift quasars to everyday life. The characters begin to see old scars that appear to be healing in reverse; the wounds essentially un-healing to the point in which they were inflicted.
The readers are able to helplessly watch the characters work towards an apocalyptic event with. This allows the author to foreshadow the ending and create a sense of doom and suspense in the process. Foreshadowing can be quite tricky as the writer must tell of future events without giving too much away or losing the readers interest. Poe and Roberts are stringing readers along to keep them in the story, only giving up little information at a time while making it clear that the story will not end well for all of the characters involved. The inevitability of the end of the world truly makes the story creepy, just as the inevitability of Fortunato’s end made The Cask of Amontillado so dark and chilling.
While I felt the parallel made in “7C” worked to make the story suspenseful and compelling, I think that the connection between quasars and time moving backwards to an apocalypse is interesting, but it is on some pretty shaky ground. Quasars are older than we would expect to find in this high red-shift light. This does not necessarily mean that time could work backwards, but simply that we are seeing things older than we might expect. It seems that the characters getting liver spots at a young age would have been a more solid metaphor concerning quasars.