On Amazon there are more than twenty novels entitled Wednesday’s Child . And this is one of them.
Wednesday’s Child poses an interesting dilemma for Dylan Brice. He goes to sleep on Tuesday night, but wakes up on Thursday morning. He goes to sleep on Thursday night and wakes up on Wednesday morning. He goes to sleep on Wednesday night and wakes up on Friday morning.
Confused? Author Alan Zendell explains the process with allusions to the space-time continuum, a reference to Groundhog Day, and the mysterious Übermensch. [If you’re not familiar with the term Übermensch, refer to Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1883 philosophical masterwork, Thus Spoke Zarathustra . The exact meaning in Wednesday’s Child is implied and not fully defined.] The problem is that it takes the first nine chapters to explain it. After that Zendell hits his stride delivering an interesting thriller that includes spies, terrorists, and the threat of radiological attack.
Unfortunately, the action climaxes in chapter forty-eight, with the final three chapters devoted to revealing Dylan’s real mission, trying to save the world from itself. Other authors have used science fiction to promote their political or social message, but in this story it’s less than compelling.
Wednesday’s Child is, as they say, a story with good bones. It has a solid premise, but I find fault with Dylan, who becomes ultra-aware of his situation too quickly. He immediately assumes that every bad thing―a co-worker falling, a surgeon killed, a hit-and-run―were all because of him. He quickly determines that if it happens on Thursday, he can fix it on Wednesday, so that everything is good on Friday. This plays out over and over again.
Suddenly faced with a situation that would push any other rational person to the brink of madness, Dylan is analytical, objective, and detached. He’s suddenly able not only to process it, but to share it with his wife, Ilene, who pretty quickly accepts it as reality. More than that, I didn’t get a real sense of deep internal conflict between him and his new situation. And his wife. And his co-workers. It seems like everyone just accepts his situation too easily. They’re too willing to help. The physics of what happens to Dylan is complex, but the reality of his relationships and his own internal struggles deserve to be shown as even more complex and investigated. Even though Dylan is secretly a deep cover CIA asset, that doesn’t make him an expert in quantum mechanics. And that inferred expertise shows up way too soon in his thinking process. Even James Bond had to have complex scientific theories explained to him.
And then there’s the physics. That would take an entire review by itself.
The problems with Wednesday’s Child start at the very beginning. The title is not unique. The cover art appears amateurish and doesn’t really relate to the story. The synopsis is wordy and just didn’t grab me. The final paragraph if the synopsis is even a little preachy― It portrays marriage as a loving and mutually respectful partnership that strengthens both partners… ―and on and on. This is a story about shifting space-time, spies, and terrorism, not touchy-feely relationships. Or is it?
I had to resist the urge, while reading the synopsis, to close the file and not open it again. For the story itself, the writing, especially in the beginning, is often difficult to follow and poorly polished. Throughout the first nine chapters, I had to fight to stay interested long enough to get to the action. It felt like chapters ten through forty-eight were written first and chapters one through nine were written afterwards to explain the main story. I believe the physics of Dylan’s situation could have been better integrated into the main story.
The worst offense I find in this novel is the repeated puppy reference to a human being, as in puppy-dog neediness , helpless puppy , frightened puppy dog look , helpless puppy look . The English language is rife with wonderful descriptors for human emotion, puppy anything is not one of them.
Wednesday’s Child would have benefited greatly from a thorough editing and objective peer review. As I said before, the story has good bones, hence great potential, but in its present form it doesn’t realize that potential.
© Copyright 2012 by Kevin Fraleigh.