Monday, March 6, 2023

Two Truths and a Lie

Sarah Pinkster is a contemporary fantasy and science-fiction author currently living in Baltimore. In 2020, Tor Books released her 34-page creepy novella called “Two Truths and a Lie” that won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for Best Novelette. It’s available for two-bucks as an ebook. 

Marco and Stella were friends back in high school who lost touch over the years. When Marco’s unpopular older brother Denny dies, Stella resurfaces in Marco’s life to attend the funeral and pay her respects. Stella even offers to help Marco clean out Denny’s house. 

Denny was a hoarder, so going through his house with her old friend isn’t a pleasant task. The upside is that the manual labor of filling trash bags with Denny’s detritus gives Stella and Marco a chance to catch up with one another. 

As the two are cleaning and chatting, Stella asks Marco if he remembers a local children’s TV show from their childhood called “The Uncle Bob Show.“ Marco answers that he does recall the show and that his deceased brother had been in the studio audience for at least one episode decades ago. Their shared vague recollection was that the low-budget kid’s program was a sinister turn on "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood."

In the heaps of junk in Dennis’ home, they find a VHS tape from "The Uncle Bob Show" and pop it into the VCR. The show’s format is bizarre, and the stories told by Uncle Bob to his youthful audience are unnerving. I’ll let you read the novella yourself to get the gist. This leads to Stella conducting her own investigation into the show’s history from back in the 1980s and things get seriously creepy. 

"Two Truths and a Lie" is a story playing with the vague and largely repressed memories we all have from our childhoods. Pinkster’s writing is solid throughout. The ending didn’t really work for me, but I love the concept enough to recommend the novella without reservations. 

Buy a copy of this book HERE.

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