I've been reading The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance (2009) and The Mammoth Book of Irish Romance (2010) recently. Surprisingly, I liked the time travel anthology much, much better than the Irish romance anthology. There are only a couple entries from the time travel book that I didn't appreciate at all, and almost the exact opposite for the Irish stories. Pretty surprising since many of my favorite authors' books are set in Ireland.
Anyway, over the next couple of weeks, I plan to write postings on some of the short stories from those two collections.
I really enjoyed Gwyn Cready's The Key to Happiness. A man goes back in time to stop the woman he loves, an unrequited passion, from making a life-altering decision. She'll have the appearance of every happiness for years, but then one action causes everything to crumble around her, destroying the essence of who she is and leading to complete misery.
There are rules to his time travel episode. He can't talk to his young self in order to influence his past actions (or lack of action) or he'll immediately disappear, and, even if he limits himself to speaking with her, she won't be able to remember what his older self tells her after he eventually leaves the scene of the past.
Will he be able to influence her decision when she won't consciously remember their conversation? And will he be rewarded in some way for his selfless act to aid the woman he loves?
I found the concept original, intriguing, and perfect for the short story format. I definitely didn't feel the need to read a book-long version of the story.
Best of all, I haven't read anything by Cready before, so I've found a new-to-me author to enjoy. Read more about the author at her site here.
My overall personal rating of The Key to Happiness from The Mammoth Book of Time Travel is a B+.