Everyone has tropes in stories that they will read no matter what. No matter the execution, if a story includes these elements, a reader will immediately devour the story with enthusiasm. Two of my favourite tropes are amnesia and immortal characters, so I was predisposed to like Cameron Hyndman’s “Eternity Unknown,” before I even started reading it. After all, what’s better than immortals or amnesia? That’s right, an immortal with amnesia! I’m sold.
The thing about amnesia stories is that they’re always stories about the past, even if the protagonist doesn’t know it. You, the reader, can discover that past along with the protagonist because the protagonist has effectively become a stranger in their own life. The tension lies in the protagonist’s ignorance of the effect their own actions have on what they’re doing now.
“Eternity Unknown” is the final Collidor offering, and it’s a bit of a departure from the previous stories. While the previous stories were science fiction, showing different versions of the future, Hyndman’s story is much fore traditional fantasy, making use of the trappings of that genre (there are magic and elves, or at least elf/fairy-analogues.) The main character is trying to find out what happened to the city he was from, and along with his human companion, has been searching for the ruins of that city, presumably for a long time. When we open, he has finally found what he seeks, but he doesn’t remember why the city he loved is one, or any detail of his life beyond fragments.
Another thing I like about amnesia stories is how they engage with personal responsibility. Can you truly be said to be culpable if you don’t remember the choices you made, even if they led to a bad outcome? What if you keep making the same choices over and over again? Does intent matter?
One of the things I enjoy about stories about immortals, on the other hand, is how actions have different weight to them. Things that would matter to a mortal don’t, necessarily, for a being who lives on a completely different timescale from the rest of us. Combining the two, so that a creature who is timeless is instead temporarily out of time, makes for an intriguing concept and one I enjoyed reading.
What stories will you read no matter what? And, since this project is coming to an end, I’d love to hear what people thing about the visions of the past and the future brought forward by the authors involved. Any common themes that jump out? What did you enjoy most about the stories?