Christopher Cameron travels through various iterations of the universe; but, despite the infinity of existence, his main concern is to seek out versions of his wife Elizabeth, stranger though he may be to them.

I’m ambivalent about this story. Silverberg’s prose is vivid, both in its descriptions of place, and elsewhere; such as when the author explains the differences between being a tourist, explorer, and infiltrator of other worlds:

Tourism hollows and parches you. All places become one: a hotel, a smiling swarthy sunglassed guide, a bus, a plaza, a fountain, a marketplace, a museum, a cathedral. You are transformed into a feeble shrivelled thing made out of glued-together travel folders; you are naked but for your visas; the sum of your life’s adventures is a box of left-over small change from many indistinguishable lands.

But I don’t find the characterisation of Cameron to work nearly as well. His stated motivation for travelling is the pure desire to search; but he’s drawn too sketchily to feel like a restless soul. The twist at the end is neat, but those issues of characterisation reduce its emotional heft.

Rating: ***½

This is one of a series of posts on the anthology Not the Only Planet.

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