In “Kaleidoscope,” by K.D. Wentworth, Ally finds herself caught in a kaleidoscope of possible worlds. In some she returns a stray dog to its home. In others, it gets run over. In some her friends are married and thriving. In others they’re in various stages of breakup. And in some, she just might find her true love.
His name is Barry, a warm, funny man who works with ungulates at the zoo. At first, he is only a memory that her friends tell her she met. Then the wrong version of him shows up and the right Barry appears only in her dreams. So she takes her fate into her hands and goes looking for him at the zoo. And he’s just as charming as she had hoped.
At first I read because I liked Ally. She saves a dog. She gardens. She volunteers at the zoo. Once she found Barry, I couldn’t stop because the universe kept taking him away from her. Yeah, I know. Call me a romantic. But at the end of each read, my heart and my eyes still well up with happiness at the end.
I don’t know whether to call this fantasy or science fiction. The Impossible Thing seems to hinge on sheer wilpower, like magic, but its nature is inspired by science. There’s an element that reminds me of the folktale motif where our faithful heroine has to hold tight to her lover as he passes through many forms until he comes out as his true self. There’s not even a pseudoscientific explanation. So I guess I’ll come down on the side of calling it a fantastic story.
Happiness found in the best of all possible worlds.