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Lupoff: 12:02 P.M. (Jan./Feb. 2011)

(14 posts)
  • Started 8 years ago by geoffhart1962
  • Latest reply from JohnWThiel

  1. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Myron Castleman awakens on a familiar street corner in New York, having done this already countless times. We quickly learn that he’s been reliving the same day endlessly, experiencing what a physicist he consults calls a “time bounce” that lasts no more than an hour; at the end of the hour, it sends him back to the same time when he started. Sadly, Myron is the only one who seems to be experiencing this phenomenon, and everyone else’s memory is rewritten to start over again at 12:02 PM each day. He can’t even leave notes to himself, since the notes also disappear.

    Myron is an employee at the oddly named firm of Glamdring and Glamdring. (Glamdring was a sword from Lord of the Rings, forged for an Elf king but eventually acquired by Gandalf. It’s name nominally means “the foe hammer”, which is an odd name for a cutting weapon, though given that it’s a two-handed sword, it sort of makes sense.) The relevance of this allusion to the story isn’t clear to me, though I haven’t read the prequel to the story, and that might have clarified it. But a little Web research suggested that “12:01 P.M.” was an extended metaphor for the kind of office worker who both literally and metaphorically works himself into a rut.

    [spoilers] The SFnal premise is a bit hand-wavey, involving a metaphor of a collision between two adjacent universes in much the same way as two superballs might collide. As a result of the rebound, Myron is being time-looped. He’s not yet panicking, but it’s clearly not a happy position to be in, and he wants out. But what can you possibly hope to achieve in only an hour? As the story progresses, the alert reader will note (as Myron soon does) that his clock is advancing by 1 minute each time the time bounce repeats (i.e., his window of time between reboots is growing shorter), and that Myron is aging a minute at a time (hair greying, joints hurting), even as the rest of the world returns agelessly to its starting point. In addition, there may be some parallel universe factors at work, since late in the story, Myron notices the name on his identity papers has changed from Castleman to Kastleman.

    This is the clue Myron needs to brainstorm his way into a solution: if the superball analogy is valid, he reasons, then it should be possible to put a bit of a spin on the balls in such a way that they miss each other the next time they rebound. Indeed, the decreasing height of each subsequent bounce (the advancing clock) suggests the analogy is sound. To apply that spin, he waits until the final second of his allotted time (now less than an hour), then flings himself out a window high above the ground. That change in his behavior is sufficiently drastic to change the time loop, freeing him from his gradually tightening trap. It’s a clever idea, but seems a bit contrived. It’s not clear why Myron is one of the millions of New Yorkers subjected to the time bounce, or why any act on his part could change the behavior of two whole colliding universes. Possibly this is something hinted at in the prequel?

    On the other hand, it occurred to me that any fictional character is effectively trapped in a rut: no matter how many times you and others read the story they’re living in, it never changes. If you’re the kind of author who always feels a bit guilty abusing your characters for literary ends, and if you’ve read any of the stories in which fictional characters understand that they’re fictional and being forced to endure repeated relivings of their adventures (I’m thinking Jasper Fforde’s books, for instance), one can see “12:02 P.M.” as a metaphor for the lives of these pour souls stranded in the world of story. In that sense, it’s kind of nice of Lupoff to return to his story world of 37 years ago and finally free Myron.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  2. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Should you wish to read the "12:01", it's now on our Website: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/fiction/reprint01.htm

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  3. alnico357
    Member

    I pulled out my 12/73 copy of F&SF and read them back-to-back.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  4. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Thanks for the link, Gordon. I'll have a look later this week (time permitting) and see whether that changes anything about my comments on the sequel.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  5. geoffhart1962
    Member

    Managed to steal a few moments to read 12:01 P.M. and enjoyed it, but didn't find anything that really improved my understanding of 12:02 P.M.

    However, I was amused at Lupoff's portrayal of the physicist. Very 1970s. *G*

    Posted 8 years ago #
  6. JohnWThiel
    Member

    One of Lupoff's best.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  7. Winks
    Member

    Just spent an hour with 12:01 and 12:02, back to back. Enjoyable reads. Kinda glad I had the opportunity to read 12:01 first (thanks!)... since 12:02 builds on the original premise when it introduces elements like the eventual time shrinkage and quirky evidence that the two universes are swapping out during the bounces.

    [spoilers] Still, as geoffhart1962 points out, it's a little frustrating that we never learn why Myron is the only one cognisant of the repetitive bounces (I thought, perhaps, he was going to meet others suffering his plight when he was researching Rosenbluth's article at the NY library) or why it's his plunge that's enough "spin on the ball" to ultimately unlock the day. But fun reads nonetheless... in a Rod Serling kinda way!

    winks

    Posted 8 years ago #
  8. John E. Rogers Jr.
    Member

    Read the freebie of 12:01.

    Loved it.

    Groundhog Day meets The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

    Nothing revolutionary. But nicely done.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  9. John E. Rogers Jr.
    Member

    Kindled the Jan/Feb 2011 issue so I could read the sequel.

    In a neat twist, the ish has its own Time Bounce - as it is marked Jan/Feb 2010.

    Was momentarily afraid that I would finish the story then find myself right back at the beginning.

    Liked it.

    But overall, I preferred the original.

    To me, reading them back to back, this was a study in graduating or maturing or, perhaps better, simply changing styles.

    Lupoff doesn't write the same way now.

    His manner was more standoffish yet somehow more intensely real to me back in '73. Not terse, or cold, but direct. Spare. Now we're closer in, but - oddly, for me - further away.

    As far as the superball solution is concerned, a nice, feel-good exit.

    Not so much superball, as perhaps softball.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  10. Marian
    Member

    I enjoyed the story. Thank you GVG for posting it for free. Glad to hear that Myron finds a solution in the sequel.

    And yet, and yet, without having read the sequel, I think I too prefer the original. It's the thought of the situation. Myron remembers every hour that repeats and the fact that whatever he does is wiped out. There's no escape from this endless loop, even death will be wiped out. Now that's a horror story! It captures well Myron's mounting feelings as he realizes all this and he can't even hide in oblivion. Ultimately, a few thousand repetitions would, I think, drive one mad. A true horror story.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  11. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Ha, JR, you avoided time-Lupoff's trap. Very crafty escape from the story, but I would suggest to Lupoff that he try a third story utilising the technique in Joyce's FINNEGANS WAKE--there, the end of the book leads back into the beginning. I suspect this was one of the influences on BSG's final episode. Anyway, what works so well for Joyce could be another plus for Lupoff, producing a story that is fully Itself, formal, shining and complete.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  12. John E. Rogers Jr.
    Member

    Be interesting to consider Castleman after several hundred trillion repeats.

    Would he, by then, have gone insane? Become a brain-dead husk oblivious to the transitions?

    Or would he - after having read every book on physics - Hell, every book period - at the library, in local stores, apartments, offices - after having studied all the sciences and fields of mathematics to a point unimaginable to us - then achieve some kind of Starbow's End metamorphosis?

    Would he evolve into something else - something new - be able to, simply by employing his mind, fix the eternal snapback - alter the universe - teleport or temporaport to some secure location?

    Or would it no longer matter - since wherever he was was wherever he needed to be?
    .
    .
    .

    Posted 8 years ago #
  13. Marian
    Member

    Just discovered there's an interview with the author on how he came to write both stories. Seems a short film was made of the first one as well.
    http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/blog/2011/01/10/interview-richard-a-lupoff-on-1202-p-m/

    Posted 8 years ago #
  14. JohnWThiel
    Member

    Luposs being I kind of hard-to-find person, I thought I'd point out that he's on the limited mailing list of Shelby Vick's PLANETARY STORIES.

    Posted 8 years ago #

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