Carter Evans is the founder and editor of the science fiction magazine Astounding! but the publication, like most print media these days, is on its last legs. Carter can’t afford to keep it going for much longer. Adding to his headaches are the submissions of one J. Harper, a very persistent, and very bad, author who keeps sending in new versions of his work despite numerous rejections. Carter’s drunken attempt to rebuff the writer backfires and he ends up meeting J. for John Harper in person. John turns out to be a charming if somewhat awkward man with a few eccentricities, chief of which is the belief that he is an alien stranded on Earth.
In spite of John’s quirks, Carter finds himself strangely attracted to the man, and impulsively invites John to go on a road trip Carter’s ex has roped him into. The trip proves to be a turning point in both Carter and John’s lives.
“Astounding!” is a sweet and slightly quirky romance with a science fiction angle. It manages to poke a little gentle fun at the common memes of both genres, even while employing many of them. Having key characters that are science fiction writers and editors as part of a science fiction story is a bit risky, but the author pulls it off rather well. It is part of what allows the story to have a little fun with the plot, and also means that the story can be moved along rather quickly, since there’s not a lot of explaining to do.
Most readers will probably describe this as “soft” science-fiction, or even fantasy. There’s no rocket science involved, so the story will appeal as much to those just looking for romance as well as those who like something with a little more thought-provoking story.
“Astounding!” is available from Amazon.