The story is laid out in a series of vignettes that show the lives of a happy couple (who do quarrel) on occasions failing to make it to the destinations they intend. What matters is what they do with once they reach the alternative destination. Miss a concert because the map—or maybe the map-reader—was wrong? They choose not to let the night be ruined. The stars are bright. There’s a cornfield, a blanket, and a CD player—a sorta concert.
One of the markers of time passing is the change in technology. Remember using a map to drive someplace? Author Wendy Nikel also projects into the future with developing technology and technology that doesn’t exist.
Nikel uses humor, but the story is full of nostalgia and poignancy. At its root, it is a love story. She says a lot in a few words and avoids the maudlin. One mix-up seems rather unlikely, but it is cute.
I generally dislike lists or groups of vignettes, but this one told a coherent story and stuck to its theme without appearing forced. I liked it.
According to her blurb, Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit wendynikel.com.
The story can be read here.
Title: “Travelogue of the Perennially Lost”
Author: Wendy Nikel
First published: Daily Science Fiction, December 21, 2020