The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay: Narrated by Steven Strait

The Last Conversation is the third of the six short stories in the Forward Collection assembled by Blake Crouch I’ve listened to. It is also the first time I’ve experienced Paul Tremblay as a science fiction author, and the experience was an interesting one.
I’m sure he’s written other stories or books that have crossed into the science fiction territory, or at least I’d be surprised if he hasn’t, but I’ve only been familiar with him as a horror author and occasionally as a dark fantasy author. This brief tale showcases his talent for wearing a variety of hats with efficacy.
It’s a solid second-person narrative detailing the awakening of the protagonist in isolation to protect him from a global pandemic, while the only other person–seemingly still alive–coaxes them through restoring memories and physical capabilities. The story was ultimately predictable, but no less satisfying for the very predictability of it. It wasn’t about telling us a new tale so much as providing a platform for the discussion of morality, humanity, the devastating combination of solitude and grief, and the ethics involved in cloning. In that sense, Tremblay packs a big punch into a small number of words. He utilizes and capitalizes on the elements of science fiction that have always been used by authors, the capacity to frame thought experiments in a fictional narrative that makes the philosophical subject matter more palatable and digestible for the readers (and sometimes the author).
The narration, performed by Steven Strait, is superb. Strait captures the stubborn resistance of the protagonist to being held captive–even if it is for his own good–as well as the sadness and pity that mingles with that oppositional nature as the truth of everything is revealed in the end.

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