Time is for Dragonflies and Angels, the new book from sci fi author J.M. Erickson is a collection of short stories in the tradition of the classic science fiction writing compendiums, evoking well-loved writers such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, with clear influences from other giants of the genre as we go along.
This is more directly apparent in some stories over others, such as Neurogenesis which is a riff on the ending of Flowers for Algernon, or To See Behind Walls using The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as its key inspiration. It gives the anthology a feel of an author experimenting freely, and providing the best results for your pleasure; something quirky and odd but altogether fun, enrapturing, and slightly intimate as you share in the successes and the flaws of each piece.
The central theme, broadly speaking, is multiverse theory, hinging on branching, alternate, and successive timelines, be it via the result of a decision or simply an alternative version of what we understand as normal. The book is definitely what many of those reading Erickson have come to expect – in essence, good, solid, trad sci-fi with a twist of the mind-bending and existential ranging as far out from the genre’s form as Dick, Clarke, and Moorcock at times, especially in the themes offered here where other realities collide.
Part of the issue with the collection is, in fact, the wide net it spreads. While Erickson in no short order proves himself a competent short fiction writer, there’s such a very broad array of subjects that things almost become discordant as a whole, and sometimes stories may be slightly too surreal for the average reader individually. You could never accuse Erickson of writing anything too simple, to be sure, and many readers will enjoy the cerebral twists these stories take. However, for some, stories such as Recount Our Dreams may require a few flicks back to check what exactly is going on. Maybe some would prefer to see the stories re-categorized by theme, but isn’t it so inviting to find a treasure chest of so many different gems? Especially when those gems are of such an unusual nature, most readers familiar with this kind of book will be diving in to discover their favorite flavor.
This anthology is an exciting step for Erickson. Entertaining and well-constructed prose like this will win him new fans, especially if he strategizes and maybe offers some of these pieces to the usual sci-fi magazines as submission for publication. He deserves to be more widely known, and each work presented from the coffers of Erickson’s mind seems to be adding more skill and detail to his authorship.
Time is for Dragonflies is most certainly worth a dip for any fan of science fiction looking for fresh directions to steer their imagination to new realms.