Hugo Awards: Best Novelette (3rd contender)

Next is Charlie Jane Anders’s “Six Months, Three Days,” from Tor.com. It’s here.

The title refers to the length of time from when two clairvoyants meet and fall in love (they have, of course, foreseen this) until they break up (yep, foreseen this, too). Doug can see the future; Judy sees many possible futures. Judy is constantly making choices. Doug is constantly waiting for what he knows will come next. For Doug, everything is preordained and nothing can be changed. For Judy, the possible futures to choose between are endless.

They both see their love affair ending badly: they will argue, Doug will break his leg in a fall down a riverbank, they will part ways.

Judy thinks Doug has tricked himself into believing he has no choices because he simply doesn’t look for alternate timelines. He thinks she has deluded herself into believing there are choices, and what she really sees is one true future and lots of false ones.

And, repeat. That’s pretty much what the story is about: each phase of their affair is interpreted through these two beliefs. My experience of reading the story was of alternating interest and annoyance, as in watching a time-travel story where the characters fret overmuch over paradoxes and I just want to tell them to get on with the story. The ending is nice–warning, I’m talking spoilers here–Doug doesn’t break his leg, he breaks his arm, proving that the future he sees is not foreordained. But he still believes it is, because as he remembers it, he always foresaw himself breaking his arm. Only Judy can see that the event they foresaw six months earlier has changed. Or perhaps…(you know enough to fill in the blank).

It’s about the idea, not the characters (as their generic names suggest).

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