From the opening, “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story“, by James Alan Gardner made me smile. In storybook prose it tells of a ray-gun and the boy who found it. I most enjoyed the flashes of humor in lines like:
No one on Earth noticed–not even the shamans who thought dots in the sky were important.
The boy is Jack, your typical lonely boy who wants a girlfriend and finds a mysterious object in the woods. So what’s he going to do about it? Suffice to say we watch him grow up, acquiring and losing girlfriends along the way, under the shadow of the ray-gun. I like how large its presence is for Jack, and how small it is for the world as a whole. It seems fitting that the truth is what finally resolves matters.
I have mixed feelings about the style of the telling. On the good side, sometimes the short sentences were arrayed in lovely parallelism. Sometimes they emphasized the jokes to good effect. But sometimes they were thrown down in choppy sentences of nearly equal length. In passages where my interest flagged, the same storybook quality of the prose wore on me. And as the story progressed, the storybook quality fit the hero less well. Fortunately, then there would be another joke or wry observation and I was back on board.