|Oh boy, this is the kind of story I love.
The central concept is established quite soon, the title hinting on it quite heavily. It opens a lot of space for exploration, fueling all the what-ifs I like so much in science fiction. It’s full of small details that give credibility, like slow television screens rendering pictures, or sluggish money counting machines. But there are also aspects of the portrayed effects of relativity that seem questionable. Would there be accelerated healing? His whole body has entered a new mode of speed, meaning all processes in his body appear normal to him, but not to the outside observers. Realistically, the first noticeable clue could be something that is already high-speed in the outside world, like a change in a familiar high-pitch sound, or perhaps his own reactions, like catching a falling object. There’s no way his heart rate or other physical functions stayed the same. His attempt to move slowly could have fooled people at first, but could he convincingly slow his speech? Before he accelerates to the point the whole world freezes, people should still be able to see his blurred shape (like we see the blur of hummingbird wings), so it’s quite improbable that Dr Megana didn’t see him take the bottle. And there’s this whole question of interacting with inanimate objects. If he picks a coin and gives it his own acceleration, it cannot just freeze when he lets go of it.
While I’d love all these details to be more scientifically accurate, this story is essentially not about physics. It’s about a man who goes from a guinea pig, through pickpocketer and a bank robber, to almost a hero. Only by withdrawing from the world he is able to forgive it. Only in his final moments, he can accept the meaning of his name.
It goes beyond that. This story is about all of us, about the journey we take, the one of searching for meaning, for a purpose, for someone to understand us. It’s a story about ageing. It doesn’t matter if the world accelerates around us or freezes; slowly, we all slip out-of-sync. And the written word is what makes our life meaningful.