Norman Turrell’s Points of Possibility was my first audio book review and my first anthology review. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After putting on my headphones and pushing play, I closed my eyes and listened to the first scene. By minute two, I was hooked. Points of Possibility is the best work of science fiction I have read this year.
Turrell’s short stories are set in the future, the past, and in alternate dimensions. While the landscapes and technology are often foreign, the characters are not. Turrell excels at describing people. His narration of his character’s thoughts and actions is so candid, I often felt like an ethereal trespasser in each of their lives. You will meet a doubting princess, a confident hunter, a daring space crew, a distraught father, and other complicated, compelling characters. Dialogue is fast and natural and often used in favor of cumbrous prose. Many times I opened my eyes from the audio surprised to see the mundane lavender of my bedroom – wasn’t I just walking with David, the scientist, to see his girlfriend? Something was about to happen… Something bad.
Turrell’s characters are flawed, unsettled, and forced to make decisions where there are no good options. The way they handle their emotions – particularly of rage and grief – is fascinating. This raw, unfiltered look at the human psyche left me feeling like I knew these characters better than some of my own friends.
Turrell’s windows into bizarre worlds where so much has changed – and so much hasn’t – are expertly crafted. Turrell rarely lingers on description, dropping you into each story with only enough to give you your bearings. The tone of each tale falls somewhere between The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. In fact, a few of the stories give Black Mirror a run for its money. Turrell has perfected the art of the short story, and every work in his anthology creates an emotional swell of fear, love, sadness, anger, and trauma. I felt every piece was the perfect length and yet never enough. I want to know more about Turrell’s world and stories without disrupting his perfect portrait of possibility.
It’s hard to explain the plot of any of Turrell’s pieces without giving away eccentricities of the complex, sometimes shocking, plot. However, every entry has a curious twist. By the end of the book, I was expecting these twists, yet every conclusion still felt fresh. Turrell’s stories play with the ideas of morality, exploration, relationships, time, and – as mentioned before – the human psyche without ever proselytizing. Instead, Turrell’s stories ask questions, offer the observations of its characters, and leave the reader to discover the answers within themselves.
The only caveat I have about Turrell’s masterpiece is the audio. The narration of his work felt choppy. The narrator’s inflections felt off, and it was difficult to discern when the narrator switched character voices. As Turrell’s use of dialogue tags is conservative, this created confusion. About halfway through the audio, I purchased the Kindle copy of Points of Possibility to read along with the narration. This improved my experience.
You should read this book if: you enjoy science fiction, paranormal stories, philosophical reading, or if you are a fan of Black Mirror. Turrell’s writing is masterful, and his stories explore the dark areas of the human psyche with an explorative, fine-tipped pen. Points of Possibility lingers; you will taste it days after you’re done. I hope to see more of Turrell’s writing in the future – perhaps for Black Mirror Season 4?