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In Between
R.A. MacAvoy
Subterranean Press, 104 pages

In Between
R.A. MacAvoy
R.A. MacAvoy was born in Cleveland, OH. She attended Case Western Reserve University and received a B.A. in 1971. She worked from 1975 to 1978 as an assistant to the financial aid officer of Columbia College of Columbia University and from 1978 to 1982 as a computer programmer at SRI International before turning to full-time writing in 1982. Her first novel was Tea with the Black Dragon (1983).

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A review by Rich Horton

It's nice to see new work from R.A. MacAvoy, though this latest story is only somewhat new -- I saw an earlier version online a couple of years ago called "The Go-Between." It is an enjoyable piece, though a bit hard to get a grip on for this review, in essence I think because I find it fairly slight. It's a full-length novella, but shortish, and it reads a bit like an introduction to a character that might eventually get a whole novel.

In Between is about a Chinese-American painter named Ewen Young. He lives a peaceful enough life, and he's a fine painter, though his personal life has had some disappointments, including a live-in girlfriend who left him. But overall, things seem fine. Then he is attacked by a couple of thugs, who state that he's a message for his beloved but rather disreputable Uncle Jimmy, who apparently owes a mobster a lot of money.

Jimmy taught Ewen some martial arts skills -- lots, actually -- and Ewen defends himself, but then he visits Jimmy and he finds his Uncle murdered -- and gets shot himself for his pains. (Literally.) Most of the rest of the story concerns the ramifications of the shooting -- we get scenes from the POV of the detectives investigating the crime, scenes from the POV of the mobster, and lots of scenes of Ewen's recovery. And it is during his recovery that Ewen learns he can travel "in between" -- to the "place" in between death and life. All this is interesting enough. And the leisurely depiction of character -- of Ewen's own character, and his interactions with his loved ones: his sister and her husband and child; his ex-girlfriend; his past time with his Uncle; all are very well portrayed and quite absorbing. The plot is thinner, though -- there is an action-filled resolution but it all seems a bit short of complete. As I said, a full novel about Ewen seems a possibility -- for now, this shorter work is pleasant and worth reading but not earthshaking.

Copyright © 2009 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

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