Tag Archive | time travel

Book review: Kindred by Octavia Butler

KindredKindred by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Giving this 3 1/2 stars.

You all know the plot by now: Dana, a modern black woman, is inexplicably thrust back into the antebellum South, time after time, where she is presumed to be a slave based on the color of her skin. Eventually she figures out she is drawn back to that particular plantation and that particular time to protect the life of the young son of the plantation owner. Said son is her ancestor — a twist on the Grandfather Paradox: she must keep him alive long enough to father a child with a particular slave or she will not exist.

Ms. Butler pulls no punches in her graphic detailing of the brutality of slavery. Said brutality makes this a difficult read. It’s a worthwhile read, regardless. If I have a quibble, it’s that the time travel mechanism is left completely unexplained — a trick of the cosmos, a spiritual connection, a genetic memory? Who knows? Although the “how” of Dana’s multiple trips to the early 19th Century isn’t relevant to the story Ms. Butler wanted to tell, I still wanted a bone to chew on, some pseudo-rational gobbledegook, however implausible, that my brain would accept as working within the confines of the story.

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Book review: A Murder In Time by Julie McElwain

A Murder in TimeA Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kendra Donovan, FBI agent, darts into the secret staircase of an English manor house to escape an assailant. Woo, oh, I’m so dizzy and nauseated, and my god my head hurts, let me open this door, and ta da! Now she’s in the 19th Century.

I hate time travel novels that have no explanation for the time travel other than woo. It’s one of the reasons I stopped reading the Outlander series. Also, for all the smarts Ms. Donovan supposedly possesses, it takes her forever to figure out and accept that she’s no longer in the 21st century.

Those caveats aside, this is a well-written, fast-paced mystery that kept me guessing the identity of the bad guy right until the reveal. I won’t go looking for further volumes of this series as they’re published, but all in all, not a bad way to kill some commute time.

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Book review: Split Second by Douglas E. Richards

Split SecondSplit Second by Douglas E. Richards

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Physicist Nathan Wexler discovered how to send matter back one-half second in time. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But the mathematics involved are of desperate interest to two separate groups, both of which are willing to go to any lengths to get their hands on Dr. Wexler and his equations. Wexler and his fiancée, Jenna Morrison, are kidnapped at gunpoint by one group and “rescued” by the other, but the rescue goes horribly horribly awry, and now Jenna is on the run. Alone.

The first half of the novel has to do with Jenna retrieving Nathan’s math. Although it’s revealed in the cover blurb, it isn’t until we’re halfway through the novel that the big time-travel idea makes its debut. The last half of the novel involves our heroine and her new-found protector, Aaron Blake, trying to stay out of the hands of the two mysterious factions after the time-travel formula. Car chases and hand-to-hand fighting and explosions abound.

As I read this, I was reminded of why I usually don’t read mass market genre fiction. Oh, it was a serviceable enough story, but predictable, cliché-ridden, and to tell the truth, so awful I could barely stand it. The reader is told on countless occasions — in fact, is nearly pounded over the head with the fact — that Nathan and Jenna both have incredibly unbelievably brilliant brilliant brilliant intellects; they must be the brightest people to have walked the face of the earth since Leonardo da Vinci. Plus, their colleagues’ brilliance is dimmed only by the supernovae that are Nathan and Jenna. And the former Special Forces/Black Ops-soldier-turned-private-detective, Aaron Blake? Wow, he’s just the most amazing, clever, resourceful reconnaissance-and-getting-out-of-scrapes guy ever!

By the time the time travel formula and its uses made an appearance, the only reason I was still reading was because I hadn’t figured out which group chasing our heroes were the good guys. But if you like predictable clichés, hyper-brilliant scientists, and lots of action and explosions, then this is the story for you.

I expect it to become optioned as the next Michael Bay movie at any moment.

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Book review: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

The Map of TimeThe Map of Time by Félix J. Palma
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ah, where to begin…

Perhaps with Jack the Ripper, whose murder of Mary Kelly sparks the suicidal despair of young Jack Harrington which opens the novel. Perhaps with H.G. Wells, whose novel The Time Machine plays a pivotal role not only in saving Jack Harrington’s life, but in saving literary history. Perhaps with Gilliam Murray, who was inspired by Wells to market his own method of time travel to the London public. Perhaps with John Merrick, or Bram Stoker, or Colin Garrett of Scotland Yard, or any number of other players, both historical and fictional, that populate this sweeping steampunk portrait of Victorian England.

It’s virtually impossible to synopsize this story without giving away its twists. So let me just say this: between the covers of this book you will find two love stories, a murder mystery, a fabulously complex swindle, clanking steam-driven automatons, a tale of African adventure, a discussion of the contradictions and paradoxes of time travel, and much bouncing about through time to witness future events or set past events right.

I began reading this book late one Friday evening. I stayed in bed reading it the following Saturday morning…in fact, it was nearly 12:30 PM when I finally looked up after consuming nearly 400 pages. Yes, it’s that good. The remaining 200+ pages were sped through the following Saturday morning, and left me wanting more more more.

So go! Buy it. Read it. Love it.

Many thanks to LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program for the opportunity to read this book.

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