Anyone who reads my stuff knows I am a fan of the conventional–well-written but conventional. If you are planning to do something out of the ordinary, it had better be well thought out. Like first-person narrators, experiments with tense should have purpose. Don’t write your story in present tense just because it’s the hip thing to do these days. Being trendy is never a good reason to do anything.
“Cyclical” is a good story with a very interesting character and some interesting philosophical ideas, but the use of tense really bothers me. The problem is that the story is a frame, with the beginning and end being the same scene and framing what is largely flashback. Framing is a very good reason to use present tense, to separate the current happenings from the past. However, for some odd reason this author decided to also write the flash back portion in present tense. It is rather illogical, and worse, it is confusing to read. I wish publishers would not throw out tried and true convention simply for the sake of novelty (boy does DSF love novelty). You can have fresh and interesting stories that are still written with conventional structures.
All in all, it’s a decent story with some great characterization. Head over to Daily Science Fiction and give the author some rockets!