“Family relationships are complicated.”
I didn’t know quite what to expect going into Odd Adventures with Your Other Father by Norman Prentiss, but what I ended up with was a surprising and pleasant speculative jaunt. It has some elements that could be considered horror, but is a fusion of science fiction with a coming-of-age story with parts alternating between the present day and the mid-1980s. Celia is a young girl who has two fathers, Shawn and Jack. Shawn relates to her how he met Jack back to their university days.
Jack can project real-time hallucinations into Shawn’s mind and Shawn is the only one that can see them, which brought forth the more science fiction-oriented elements of the book. Celia and her friend Nora go on a camping trip but Celia’s other big adventure is seeking out Jack’s parents to find out as much as she can about him. This book reads more like a fun indie movie with a lot of heart, which is a refreshing change of pace from most of the grittier and darker subject material I tend to gravitate towards.
The author did a great job encountering the struggles two gay men would have had in the 1980s without hitting the reader over the head with overemphasis and without veering into stereotypes and cliches, which was also nice to see.
The supernatural element of this book, while it permeates throughout, comes into fuller force toward the end. One of the characters that Jack and Shawn encountered in the past reminded me of Paul Dempster from the Robertson Davies novel Fifth Business, which was an interesting addition to the cast of characters.
Overall, if you like your speculative fiction a little on the lighter side of things, and you like slipstream or works that fall into multiple genres, check out Odd Adventures with Your Other Father.