Sunday, October 5, 2008

7C and Liver Spots

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.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

The style of "7C" reminds the reader of Edgar Allan Poe's work, particularly of "Cask of Amontillado." The author does a tremendous job of ever-increasing foreshadowing of a tragic end, jumping from the inner monologue of the protagonist and narration of the story. The inner monolgoue provides the impetus for the story as the main character discusses his work in increasingly greater detail, pushing the reader to the edge of curiostity to the point of desiring knowledge as to where his tangents shall finally end. This burning desire reflects the grim ambience created by the meticulously descriptions of his work in between narration of his declining physicality. The reader's curiosity yearns for an explanation, a connection of some kind, between the character's field of work and this decline in health; without a clear link, the reader is left to ponder the possibilities for the appearing scars and injuries, allowing the depths of the reader's mind to reach solutions equal in grimness to the distance to which they are taken, much like in "The Cask of Amontillado." In "Cask" the reader is fully aware of Fortunato's impending doom, yet imaginations still run wild as to how Montresor will actually resolve to act. Although I found "Cask" a much better read and filled with an incredible inner debate as to Montresor's sanity, "7C" provided a much edgier ending, actually inducing fear in myself and probably others.
This is where I found fault in "Cask." While the entire story fits together much more clearly and fluidly, I felt it lacked the punch at the end to really force the reader back a step. Likewise, in "7C," the sudden elucidation of the plot at the very end of the story elicits an immediate comprehension of previous pages and instantly escalates the story in the reader's mind to a level far above the suspense provided by Poe.