The Highlight of a Life by Jeffrey A. Ballard

Published: August, 2013 in Fiction River: Time Streams, which you can order from the publisher or buy at Amazon by clicking on the title or cover image

Genre: science fiction

Length: 18 pages

Setting: Chicago, present day and 1980

Interest: It is included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology that was available back in January.

Summary: Physicists in Chicago have managed to build a device they believe will send them to another universe in the multiverse. However, when they send one of their colleagues, Charlie, through, it turns out the equation was slightly wrong and they managed time travel instead of multiverse travel. Charlie tries to get back to his own time to let his colleagues know of the mistake, but the technology is limited and he’s interrupted before he can get the machine fully functional. Instead, he’s able to send his ward, Stephanie, forward in time, and she unwittingly carries a message to the group on the mistake.

Final thoughts: While this is a time travel story, at its heart it’s more about the relationship between Charlie and Stephanie. Charlie got a chance to right a wrong, and it made him very happy. Of course, I want to know what the repercussions of sending Stephanie forward in time are. Sure, she had a horrible life the first time through, but the second time she didn’t live half her life when she was supposed to. And why could Stephanie remember her name after the time travel and Charlie couldn’t? (ETA a comment from the author – Charlie could remember his name, he was just pretending he couldn’t to avoid complications.) As per usual, lots of unanswered questions associated with time travel.

Title comes from: It referred to the line Charlie put on his tombstone, calling Stephanie the highlight of his life.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was a short story

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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