Title: This Evening’s Performance
Author: Genevieve Valentine
In: The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk (Sean Wallace)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dieselpunk, Romance
Dates read: 6th January 2020
Format: Short story
5th sentence, 74th page: Two minutes of pre-recorded audio from the play.
He’s loved her from afar for decades. Now, they’re the last three actors left in a world of automaton shows. How will they find their happily ever after at the end of an era?
There was something so tragic and bittersweet about this story. Yet, by the end of it… kind of hopeful too. I don’t normally consider short stories and, in particular, Dieselpunk stories to be romantic. But there is something about this one that felt incredibly… well… romantic. There is no kissing, no sexuality and just the hint of something throughout. But it was quite possibly one of the sweetest books I’ve read in a long time.
There is a constant fear in society of our roles being replaced by robots. And what happens to those that are replaced? In this short story, it’s actors that are replaced. Something which I, personally can’t imagine, but does work brilliantly well into the themes of Dieselpunk. It set against a marriage breaking up, and the promising hints of a new love (which is actually super old) beginning. This whole end of an era feel helps to lead to that bittersweet, intense feeling.
This story is somehow sad and hopeful. It left me feeling melancholy, yet quite happy as I turned the final page. Feelings that I don’t always feel at the conclusion to a story and definitely don’t feel for the exact same tale.