The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

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Post September 11, 2004, 12:14:08 PM

The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

Ah, a refreshing dollop of nihilism and hedonsim. Although, as the story shows, always put your money on the nihilist. The hedonist is just too busy making himself feel good. :P<br><br>This was fun to read, although it's not for the morally righteous. Despite the subject matter, Navarro does a good job at keeping the theme at a philosophical level. <br><br><br><br><br>**Spoiler ahead**<br><br><br><br>Some readers may object to Randolph accepting the offer to time travel, especially after seeing what Blair did to Berry. However, if you accept the premise that Randolph is a hedonist, then it actually makes sense. Someone wrapped up in his own pleasure may take chances that a more risk-adverse person would avoid.<br>
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Post September 14, 2004, 11:25:58 AM

Re: The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

As Jaimie said, for an intelligent man (a professor at Stanford -- well, maybe he doesn't have tenure), Randolph seems awfully trusting.<br><br>The hinted-at Tesla-based technology was a nice touch (viz. Tesla's role in Spider Robinson's Callahan's books for a similar take on the inventor's genius), putting the time displacement (or timeline displacement) device safely out of reach of any objections to its workings. (Since some of Tesla's gadgets worked in ways that don't seem to make sense according to current science, who's to say what Tesla-based machinery might do?)<br><br>There were a few typos and one word substitution that may indicate that a spellchecker was used, but its suggestions were accepted too often. ("afraid" for "affair"; lots of missing 's' and 'ed' endings)<br><br>Sexy and nasty, not exactly holding some human motivations in high regard (lust and jealousy in particular). When will we see part II -- The Existentialist Strikes Back, in which Randolph (why would anyone call Randolph 'Rudy', anyway?) is reconstituted, but remembers what happened to him and uses the strange powers gained from his time spent as a randomized cloud of particles to -- nah, that's something I'd write. J.L. would do something more interesting, I'm sure.<br><br>Robert M.
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Post September 15, 2004, 11:47:42 PM

Re: The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

First of all, congrats to J L Navarro for having a short story and novella in the same issue! Of the two, however, Strange Things Happen was my favorite.<br><br>Is it coincidence, synchronicity, or what? This issue has several stories involving time machines, alternate universes, soul-selling, and guys named Al. There are also several stories with downbeat or unresolved endings.<br><br>Except for a disappointing ending, I think this was a very interesting story with a good basic plot. But I could not see that Amanda turning out to be a male had any effect on the story. I got the impression that the gay lover angle may have been thrown in so that the story could be submitted to a gay magazine.<br><br>All things considered, a good read.<br><br>Donald<br><br><br><br>
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Post September 21, 2004, 05:05:06 PM

Re: The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

Is it coincidence, synchronicity, or what?  This issue has several stories involving time machines, alternate universes, soul-selling, and guys named Al.  There are also several stories with downbeat or unresolved endings.
<br>Man, you're not kidding. Last month, it was a lot of lengthy novellas, this month some guy is selling his soul & going back in time all over the place...<br><br>Peter Blair may well be another prime example of the amoral vs. immoral discussion I had with Jaimie last month. I'd say the existentialism lands him soundly in the amoral category (but choosing to act immorally).<br><br>The punctuation and word choices didn't bother me so much, until the last line. No harm done. When Blair decides to bring Zook back, he won't even know he was gone. This breaks the point of view, which I've recently found out to be more important than I'd thought. It is the writer talking when it's written this way, editorializing, not the story concluding.<br><br>The setting of this story is not particularly well defined. A cabin, a dirt road, a two-story red house; only two senses seem to be used to describe the world sight and touch. Verisimiltude, the appearance of truth, would increase a lot if the other senses were involved. <br><br>For example, A chilling breeze pushed the aroma of lilacs over the dirt road as Zook shuffled toward the Blair house. Red-winged blackbirds sounded their sergeant's call from atop the scrub along the road, scolding him for his intrusion as he hurried on.<br><br>Obviously, the road is not terribly important to the greater story, but sometimes all it takes is a sentence to make it seem real.<br><br>In terms of character development, the characters could be more sympathetic to readers. The main character resolves no conflict. Instead, he get swept away by the actions of others. I would have liked to see more deliberation, more internal strife about whether he should trust Peter, or how much fun it would be to tromp about in the past, before he agreed to use the machine--made more of a choice.<br><br>Along the same lines, without that conflict resolution, the plot cuts short. I felt like I was left hanging, just as Zook was. (Maybe that was on purpose.)<br><br>I'm not crazy about people sitting around having long discussions about philosophical or technology topics--I know, we all do it from time to time. I just as guilty as the next writer. Given the title, philosophy was bound to enter into it, but it robs the shocking energy from the scene after Barry was sent into the past against his will.<br><br>So, I thought it was interesting to read, but that there was room for improvement.<br><br>Nate
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Post July 05, 2008, 03:56:11 PM

Re: The Existentialist by J.L. Navarro

An interesting opening, esp. how the first sentence sets up the dual, secretice and illusory nature of the the professor. There's a lot of symbolic layering and twists going on inthis story - just as there is a lot of layers and twists to time travel. Neat!
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