Author: Nick Stephenson
Publication Date: February 24, 2021
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 20 pages
Source: I received a free copy from the author.
Rating: 2 Stars
When a scientist discovers the secret to teleportation, he struggles to figure out what to do with it.
This short story is a love letter, of sorts, to what is commonly referred to as “The Golden Age” of science fiction – the heady days of the 1930s – 1960s where spaceflight had only just become more than a dream and the possibilities seemed endless. I hope you enjoy my take on it.
Content Warning: Deaths of lab animals.
Inventing can be tricky business.
Teleportation is one of those topics that used to be covered regularly in the science fiction genre but is rare enough to find these days that I always perk up when I read a blurb that references it. Some of the most memorable scenes were the ones that described how the protagonist and his assistant discovered how to transport living creatures across long distances in the blink of an eye. Their original theories about how to do it were solid, but it certainly took them a great deal of time to translate theories into something safe, effective, and profitable. I smiled as I read about the joy they shared when all of their hard work paid off. That scene was somehow by far the most relatable of them all even though teleportation isn’t actually possible in our world yet.
As intrigued as I was by the premise of this short story, were some massive plot holes in it. One of them involved the development of the teleportation machine the main character spent so much time talking about, and the other involved the twist ending. It struck me as odd for such an intelligent and passionate protagonist to gloss over how he expanded a small prototype into something that could be safely used on adult human beings. While I can’t say much about the ending for spoiler reasons, it also contained inconsistencies that seemed quite out of character for a protagonist who had devoted his life to scientific research. I really wish these portions of the storyline had been explained in greater detail as I desperately wanted to give this a higher rating!
Science hasn’t always been used for wholesome purposes, especially when the original creators of a device, drug, or other work are no longer fully in control of who does and doesn’t have access to it. My favourite moment happened when the narrator realized some of the more sinister applications for his invention long after he lost the ability to have a say in how it was used. His reaction to that moment was a tiny slice of the resolution, but it made all of the portions of it I cannot discuss in my review even more poignant. One of the reasons why I enjoy science fiction so much has to do with how it can coax an audience to think about serious, real-world issues like these that we might otherwise not think about, and on that note the author’s message certainly thrived.
Untethered was a wild ride.