Sunday, July 29, 2007

Michael Flynn's "Down, Sunset and the Colours of the Earth": Bermuda triangle retold

While the subject is well hashed - ships & things mysteriously disappearing in a well-demarcated area in the sea - prose is good. But it won't pay to read it as a single story; read it over several sittings as a collection of may be a dozen short stories on the same subject, & you will likely enjoy it.

Full text of this story is available online.

Story summary.
At an unspecified date, the ship MV Hyak on a regular ferry run from Seattle to Bremerton disappears almost as soon as it leaves the port. Ship was carrying a 1,000 passengers.

Later investigations reveal that at the time of disappearance

  1. the area had thick fog,
  2. there were strong air & water currents towards some point withing the fogged area, &
  3. readings from three different radar stations found that the ship was simultaneously at three separate locations just before its disappearance!
More investigations suggest radar anomaly had been around for a while. And that there is some point within the area that is pulling things towards it. Over a period of time, this phenomenon is observed repeatedly in the area - sometimes lasting days. Affected area is cordoned off.

There is speculation that some kind of singularity (black hole?) or wormhole periodically opens in the area. There is also speculation that it has mysteriously moved from Bermuda to this location. But nothing is proved.

This main story is perhaps 10% of the whole story. Rest is a collection of several human interest stories of the bereaved families & friends. Each is readable, but I had to split them over several sessions. Fortunately, there are clear markers identifying these smaller stories.

Fact sheet.
"Down, Sunset and the Colours of the Earth", short story, review
Rating: B
First published: Asimov's Oct/Nov 2006
Nominated for Hugo Awards 2007 in novelette category

Related: All Hugo Award stories.