Literary Reviews, Page 111

"Diminished Capacity," by Andrew Zimmerman Jones (continued)


“Diminished Capacity,” [Abyss & Apex Magazine of Speculative Fiction; Issue #22:  2nd Quarter, 2007] by Andrew Zimmerman Jones, begins with an apparent dream sequence concerning two adolescents dancing within a mysterious ballroom in which neither of whom knows how they got there.  The intoxicatingly romantic setting turns the dance amorous as Billy and Meredith appear mutually receptive to a sexual encounter.  The teens undress each other and then head to a bed covered with fresh lilac petals.  All seems well within the surreal environment of the presumed dream until Meredith suddenly screams and bursts into flames while the walls around them rupture and collapse.


This enigmatic and alarming preface to “Diminished Capacity” sets the tone for a piece shrouded in a surreal exposition on potential evolutionary processes, set in the not too distant future, in which William “Billy” Matthews is apparently the most salient example to date.  The fifteen-year-old Billy possesses “psionic” abilities far beyond those of any others yet tested for the “gift” that has left society trembling in its wake.  Billy is now charged with “first degree psionic assault,” which the media has dubbed “The Teen Brain Rape,” much to the chagrin of the boy’s legal counsel.  


Billy possesses the ability to invade another’s mind and join with his or her thoughts and, as exhibited in the case of the hapless teen Meredith, potentially leave a wake of mental carnage.  Meredith is now in what is seemingly an irrevocable coma as a result of the surreal encounter in the ethereal ballroom of Billy’s imagination.  It seems that the encounter was neither quite a dream nor real, but rather was a setting somewhere in-between as constructed by Billy’s imaginative desires and powerful psionic abilities.


Billy is not only a mentalist extraordinaire, he is also a seeming genius who has the ability to instantly obtain knowledge simply by reading another’s mind.  Thus, he garners straight A’s simply by reading his teachers’ minds, negating the need to study in the process.  Billy also possesses a sophistication of thought and perception that belies his tender years.  It is for these reasons that the judge at his preliminary hearing accedes to the prosecution’s request that the youngster be tried as an adult; a decision that outrages Malcolm Price, the boy’s lawyer, who appears convinced of the validity of his client’s explanation that the incident had been an accident and not one bred from malevolence.  Click to continue:




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