I'm pleased to announce the release of In Search of Lost Time, a novella by Karen Heuler published as a volume in Aqueduct's Conversation Pieces series in both small trade paperback and e-book editions. (You may recall that Karen's story "The Apartments," published in an earlier volume of the Conversation Pieces series, Other Places, is a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Awards.) You can purchase both of these volumes from Aqueduct Press now.
After beginning chemo for a rare cancer, Hildy discovers an extraordinary talent—the ability to see and take other people’s time. She also discovers there’s an underground market for quality time. After all, who has enough time? The dying, especially, want to get more of it, but giving it to them means taking it from someone else. How moral is she? How will she juggle the black marketers’ strong-arm tactics and her own quandaries about stealing something so precious and vital that it can never be replaced?
Nisi Shawl writes, in her review for The Seattle Review of Books, "Author Karen Heuler's heroine Hildy discovers that chemo infusions targeting malignant lesions on her "tempora"— an imaginary area of the brain — allow her to see, manipulate, and ultimately steal other people's time. Her superpowers neither free nor cure Hildy, though. Instead, she struggles to integrate them into a humane and principled philosophy while fending off the self-interested alliances of warring would-be time-mongers. She girds herself for battle in red-heeled boots, silk head scarves, and penciled-on eyebrows, but kindness and self-reflection prove to be her most kickass weapons." (Read the whole review)
In Rich Horton's review for Locus, he writes: "It's a curious story, leaving the reader with more questions than answers about what’s really going on, to say nothing of the morality of the process (not that it isn’t questioned). Hildy herself is an interesting character, recovering not just from cancer but from the death of her married lover, and the people she encounters are likewise a bit off-center. I was intrigued throughout..."
A Conversation with Karen Heuler about In Search of Lost Time
Q: Why is there never enough time?
It’s a little bit like riding a good car on bad tires. You think everything’s fine until you start skidding out of control going down an icy hill. Time, in this case, is the tires. There’s nothing to grip, so there’s no way of negotiating how fast it goes. When I think about time at this point in life, I can only think in small leguments. When I was young, the road was longer. And I’m spending all my time steering. This is called an extended metaphor, and the problem with extended metaphors is that I never know when to stop. Or how. Like that car.
Q. What would life be like if we could sample other people’s memories?
I’d love to do that. There are a lot of people in the world that I find unfathomable. If I could see the bits and pieces that formed them, I could see what makes them tick. That might explain why they chose to do evil while I chose to do good.
Q. Really? How good are you?
I give to many charities. Small amounts, yes, but I’m not rich. I live-trap mice and release them. I used to release them too close to home, and they’d actually beat me back to the kitchen. There was one night when I caught the same mouse four times. Then I was told that it was best to take them at least two miles away. I do that now. And I give them a little packed lunch to take with them.
Q. Is this book a comedy or a tragedy?
That really depends on the reviews. I will cheerfully acknowledge whatever they want me to acknowledge.
Q. Will this be made into an action-adventure movie?
There are a lot of women in it. There are no explosions. There would be limited opportunity for CGI. So, no.