Neil Newton’s contribution to the anthology Twisted Tales is as different from his book The Railroad as cherries are to onions. Weather the Storm is pure science fiction, complete with other worldly beings. I won’t call them aliens because I don’t want to conjure up images of little green men or tall gray creatures.
Written in the first person, the story instantly drew me in. Newton is skilled at writing first person. He knows how to own a character. The protagonist in this story is never given a name and so he becomes a real person; the professor at a local community college, the guy in the apartment across the hall, the man on line at the fast food restaurant where you grab a burger at lunch. The only difference is this guy is pretty darned smart. He has tapped into something we may all have noticed but never questioned. Why do people in New England sound so different to people in the south, or people in the Midwest pronounce words differently to people in New York? Our intrepid linguistic investigator sets out to discover where these “shifts” occur.
As he assembles his team to research the phenomena we are made more aware of his pretension. This is a man who is struggling to overcome an unpleasant childhood event; after headaches and hallucinations doctors discover a “benign tumor”. Curiously, even after the removal of the tumor, hallucinations and migraines continue although with less frequency or severity. This revelation immediately raised my “something is wrong here” antennae. When the narrator is once again plagued by a virtually paralyzing hallucination that renders him unconscious in front of his team I nodded knowingly.
Enter the Ascendants and the linguist’s complicity in their activities. As to what those activities are, well, you must read the story to find out. I will say this is a novel idea and I honestly didn’t see it coming. Are these “bad guys” or “good guys”? I leave it to you, dear reader, to make that call. I also leave it you to question the possibility of this being more than a nice little sci-fi story.
As a disclaimer let me say the author, Neil Douglas Newton, is my husband. And I have been listening VERY closely to his speech patterns and accent recently.