Review: Crushing Butterflies by M.K. Hobson

Reviewed by Stephen Cashmore
So this is my first review for AnthologyBuilder, and I’ve certainly struck lucky with Crushing Butterflies. The story is billed as being science fiction: that and the title tell any science fiction fan that it’s a story about time travel – in fact, Ray Bradbury’s famous story about stepping on a butterfly in the past and irrevocably and profoundly changing the future is mentioned in Crushing Butterflies, although not by name. What the title doesn’t tell you – but I’m telling you now – is that this is a good science fiction time travel story. For two reasons.

The first reason, which strikes you as soon as you start reading, is that the quality of Hobson’s writing is superb. She conjures up scenes and moods with a few slick phrases; describes places and actions with a few well-placed adjectives and adverbs, without overdoing either. The dialogue is terse but feels real, and is well constructed to move along the pace as well as the plot of the story. I loved the writing style.

The second reason is that Crushing Butterflies represents a new take on the time travel theme. Now that’s not easy to do, as it’s a subject that has been battered by hundreds of authors over many years. But this is a new twist. Really. The story doesn’t go into a Star Trek frenzy of describing machinery and paradox, but puts out its ideas very simply. Hobson tells us that in the world she envisages, time travellers are common, and a nuisance. So she doesn’t bother to go into technical detail – if her world can take all that for granted, then so can we. And it works.

I liked the writing; I liked the plot; I found I could empathise with the characters. I expect if I put my thinking cap on I could find a hole in the temporal logic (pretty much by definition, there has to be one in this genre), but I found I didn’t want to. Would I recommend this story for an anthology? I think my answer must be obvious: yes, I certainly would.

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