Sunday, January 18, 2009

All in Fun

My weekly review of a short story from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction qualifies for two challenges this week: the 42 Challenge and The Out of this World Mini Challenge that Carl V. is hosting in conjuction with the Dewey's Books Challenge.

This week's story, "All in Fun" by Jerry Oltion isn't exactly the out of the world type of story that Carl is looking for but it's still science fiction. It's grounded on earth, in Oregon and set on Christmas Day. There are no rocket ships, no planets beyond our own, no aliens, no time travel. Instead, there is magic and the power of wish fulfillment.

Toby believes he can have any wish he wants but there's a catch. It will only work if makes it on Christmas Eve as he's falling asleep. In the past he has wished a bully to move away, an exhibitionist to move next door, the Berlin Wall to fall and a peace treaty to be signed. Toby spends all year making notes and thinking of the best possible wish. This year, though, he loses track of his wishes and his last thought before sleep is "'I want to have fun.'" (p. 83)

The powers that be (Toby thinks it's probably Santa and not Jesus going through a rebellious phase) conger up a very strange day for him on Christmas. I'm not going to go into the details of what Toby considers fun but it's along the lines of the sophmoric humor and snarky wishes I've had sometimes myself. The day from start to finish had the dark comedy of Stephen King at his silliest and a few surreal moments that reminded me of Philip K. Dick.

"All in Fun" may not be the out of this world story that Carl had in mind but it does open up the question of just how Toby's wishes could change our world if he set his mind to it. Maybe some year he will end up on another world. Or maybe the world will be forever changed by one of his wishes.

Originally posted at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

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