Excerpt from the Tangent Online
of "Time Ablaze"
by Chris Markwyn
The issue opens with Michael A. Burstein's time travel novella "Time Ablaze." It is 1904, and Adele Weber and her mother, members of the "Little Germany" community of New York City, take in a man named Lucas Schmidt as a boarder. He claims to be a reporter for the New York World, and Adele and her mother see him as a potential match for Adele. When Adele goes to visit Lucas at work one day, however, she finds there is no record of him at any New York newspaper. Upon snooping in his room, she finds what seems an impossible book: a history of the disastrous fire upon the steamboat General Slocum that killed over a thousand people, published in 2003.
The General Slocum is the very steamboat upon which Little Germany will be taking its annual excursion down the river, and Lucas (who is, I think I can say without giving anything away, from the 21st century) has come to record as much about it as possible, in order to preserve the memory of this nearly-forgotten tragedy. He has not come to prevent the disaster, which is, of course, what Adele wants.
The conflict between Adele's urge to save her family and friends and Lucas's need to preserve history is what drives the story, but it is generally muted, giving the story a quietly pensive tone that works well with the historical setting. Burstein makes good use of the possibilities of time travel to dramatize the clash between two equally valid desires, a dramatization that would not be possible without time travel. This is a moving, delicately told story.
-- Chris Markwyn