Short Stories 366:220 — “The Dealey Paradox,” by Brendan DuBois

coverI really enjoyed this story from Crime Travel, an anthology that marries crime stories with time travel, in that it tackled a conceit you often hear bandied about whenever time travel comes up: if time travel ever became possible, certainly the horrible things that happened wouldn’t have happened: someone would have come back to fix it, right? That’s exactly what we get here with “The Dealey Paradox,” where Monroe uses time travel to go back to November 22nd, 1963, to stop the assassination of Kennedy.

What DuBois does so cleverly here is stack emotionality on top of practicality with Monroe. There’s definitely a case to be made logically for preventing the Kennedy assassination, but beyond that we learn Monroe’s mother was a huge fan of the man, and one of her great regrets in life is not knowing what good the man could have done if he hadn’t been killed, and even on her deathbed she was speaking of him, and in a delirium asked her son to “fix it.” Now having access to time travel—illicitly gained and fully aware of the likely consequences when he returns—Monroe decides to do exactly that.

DuBois puts Monroe right on the edge of what he wants, and then zags the story in a direction I particularly enjoyed, leaning harder into the science fiction than many of the rest of the tales in this anthology. Ultimately, the notion of what Monroe wants to do, what Monroe promised to do, and what Monroe should do, are put to the test—and the truth is these things are much, much bigger than he ever imagined. And while the story could have ended in a dismal place, DuBois added just a modicum of kindness in at the final moments, and for that I was extra grateful.

 

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