It’s hard for me to say much about “Distant Replay,” by Mike Resnick. It falls into the vague middle ground of an okay story, but I don’t love it or hate it enough to really get into it. It begins when Walter, an old man marking time until he can join his dead wife, Diedre, meets a 30ish woman who is exactly like Deedee. Exactly.
It seems like this shouldn’t work, building a character from the list of books and movies she likes or dislikes. But she comes alive through her interactions with Walter, like the way she is creeped out by his initial approach. Seriously, what would you think if an old man came up to you and said, “I know this is going to sound weird, but you look and act exactly the way my wife did at your age.” Yeah, it’s weird. And if you’re a guy, it’s double weird.
Naturally, Walter can’t help taking an interest in her. He manages not to be too creepy, and in the end he figures what he needs to do to make her happy. It all fits together neatly. I just don’t see what makes this great enough to nominate for a Hugo.
Sentimental, but not mawkish.
Update: You can listen to it on Escape Pod as part of their annual reading of Hugo nominees.
Tomorrow: “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?”