Time Travel

 

FrontEp6-150Gravity Spike starstarstarstarstar

by Shanna Lauffey

I tried to read this more slowly this time but I just couldn’t stop in the last few chapters. This is episode 6 of 10 and I’m too deeply invested in the characters, especially Akalya, who has been called Kallie since the second book.

One of the things I love about this series is that it takes me to unexpected places and times. This one was especially interesting, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who isn’t as far along in the series. It also goes deeply into Kallie’s emotional past and adds another layer to this character’s development, as well as the others. Marcus has a few surprises in his history too.

Usually series get too repetitive if they go on beyond 3 or 4 books, but this one keeps introducing new elements while keeping continuity on the original conflict. The relationship between Connor and Mason comes under the microscope this time and a side of Kallie’s character that believes in doing the right thing comes into fruition.

She still has a fiercely independent nature, but watching her grow into someone who can work with others has been one of the most interesting aspects of the series, along with the tricks and foibles of time travel itself. I love how some complicated shifts in time are presented in a way that the reader can keep up.

This one ended with a hint of what will be dealt with in the next book. Not a cliffhanger, but an issue that has been unresolved through several books. I will be interested to see what is uncovered! All of the books of the series have ended with a satisfying conclusion, yet left things open to deal with in future episodes. I think it finds just the right balance.

I have no hesitation in giving this one 5 stars. The feels are strong, though I think we’re about due for some more harrowing action like we had in the early books. It continues to be my favorite time travel story and one of the few series that I know I’ll stick with all the way to the end.

 

einsteins secretEinstein’s Secret starstarstarstarstar

by Irving Belateche

This is a fascinating story with enough fact mixed into the fiction to make the reader wonder where one stops and the other starts.

When Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1955, his last words were uttered in German to a nurse who did not understand the language. He had been writing something, and this is where reality and fiction diverge. In the story, what he had been writing was a series of equations and the story is told from the point of view of Jacob, a university professor, who believes that those equations hold the secret to time travel.

The early chapters relate his experience of obsession with Einstein’s theories and attempts to track down clues that might shed light on the equations and those elusive last words that were never recorded.

Jacob isn’t the only person with an interest. In a mind bending series of alternate realities and changed time sequences, contemporaries of Einstein as well as university researchers known to Jacob crisscross time paths, discovering that small changes in events don’t have the far reaching effects depicted in science fiction, but change the personal histories of those directly involved.

This is the kind of time travel I like best, because it makes me think and presents theories of time travel Physics that seem just plausible enough to make a good story. There is an aspect of espionage in this one that makes it gripping and fast paced in the later chapters, while making the reader question the nature of reality. An easy five stars!

 

Front150The Future Memory Man starstarstarstarhalf

by Shanna Lauffey

This is the fifth book in the series and the plot convolutions just get more interesting. One of the high points of this episode is that we finally meet Harlan, the time traveler Physicist who has been mentioned a few times since the beginning.

I love good science in a time travel novel and this one has obviously been well researched. I found myself looking up information on particle physics and finding books referred to that really exist. I now know a few names of top real life scientists in the field of temporal physics!

The beauty of it though, is that the story flows neatly despite the scientific information and it is accessible to the common person. I’ve never studied physics, but I followed just fine.

Apart from that, the character development continues to grow. There were multiple points of view and I’m starting to really get to know the subtleties of Marcus. We also get a look into some of Kallie’s background and the changes that have happened over time with Connor start to come into focus.

It’s tricky to review a book this far into a series because I don’t want to write spoilers for previous episodes, but the plot deepens and takes some interesting turns. These are just getting better as they go along.

If you like time travel stories at all, read this series!

ShockwaveTime Storm Shockwave starstarstarhalf

by Julienne Farnsworth

Have to love time travel that starts with an Einstein quote.

The Prologue explains a load of science, so it’s definitely my kind of thing. The Earth’s magnetosphere and the relationship of time, electromagnetic energy and gravity in Einstein’s theories are neatly explained within context of the story. It also gives a theory of naturally occurring wormholes to explain things like the Bermuda Triangle.

So, the story in Chapter 1 starts with the sinking of Mauritania, then shows a tribal group of Time keepers in 98b.c. building pyramids, then jumps to 1943 and the military experimenting with time and space travel in the Bermuda triangle. At this stage it’s not clear where the story is going to go, but it has reasonably good descriptive writing and I found myself feeling drawn in. There have been a few typos, but not so many that it brings me out of the story.

Some Bermuda triangle time and space distortions get into this one. The instruments and pilots on a routine military flight in the triangle become disoriented and suddenly find themselves off the Pacific coast. The cover up of the anomaly is more frightening than the anomaly itself, but recorded in history as a mystery.

Eventually we meet our protagonist, and Marine Biologist named Mark who is studying electromagnetic energies in the Bermuda Triangle area. His assistant, Stewart, is scared of the ocean, but swallows his fear to help his friend. Enter Ashlyn, a strange woman who arranges to meet Mark. Stewart immediately doesn’t trust her and we soon learn why.

The story has out of the ordinary characters, some interesting twists and turns, and a few surprises. Much of it reads more like an espionage story, and around halfway I was wondering what happened to the time travel aspect. It does come back in later on. However, the story started to lose me just after halfway. Ashlyn, for reasons I don’t want to spoil is supposed to be very sharp, but suddenly starts behaving stupidly. The typos increase in the second half and the story moves into the fantastical, which isn’t a problem in itself but I suddenly felt like I was reading a different story.

In its favor, the story has a lot of references to genuine Physics and had me looking up a few things. The factual information is entwined with some science fiction fairly neatly, which enjoyed. However, the tone of the story changed in ways that made my assessment plummet from a possible 5 star read to the 3.5 that I’ve given it. I’d say it’s a worthwhile read for time travel fans, but not going on my favorites shelf.

LemoncholyThe Lemoncholy Life starstarstarstarhalf

of Annie Aster

by Scott Wilbanks

Oh my, where do I start? This is a time travel book, my favorite subject, with an interesting selection of misfit characters. As far as the mechanism for time travel goes, it’s a simple magic door, or actually a more complex magic door than the usual, but we’re only given hints about how it actually works.

It starts out in 1895 with some rough city life and the leader of a sandlot gang being warned to flee, though we don’t yet know why. The gang are pickpockets and scrounge food in an almost Dickensian situation, only they’re in Kansas City. Then we move out into the country in Kansas and still in 1895 and meet Elsbeth Grundy. She owns a farm, but one day finds a house on her back 40 and writes the occupant a letter of complaint.

The letter is received by Annabelle Aster, only she lives in 1995 San Francisco and sees the farmhouse as an intruder into her back yard in her own time and location. There was an anomaly about other girls swooning over David Cassidy when Annie was growing up, which seemed to be in the wrong era, but otherwise so far so good.

Annabelle writes back to Elsbeth, explaining her side of things and the story begins to develop into something that becomes very interesting and intricate. Annie shows the farm to her best friend, Christian, who has his own strange experiences of repeatedly seeing a face in a crowd. On one occasion time seems to slow down while this is occurring, then speeds up again.

There’s a great quote in reference to dumbing down writing: “Never lower yourself for others. Make them rise to you. Whether they can or not is their burden, not yours.”

The writing for this story is very good and I considered giving it the full 5 stars, but a few things towards the end could use some clarification and I had to stretch belief a little far concerning something about the bad guy’s sidekick.

The story did include an excellently written high tension climax, some very creative methods of self defence and the most erotic kiss I’ve ever read, ever! The erotica writers could take some lessons from this.

I’m being careful about saying too much about the plot because part of the joy of reading this story was discovering the intricate connections along the way. It involves a stage magician, a murder, some rough business dealings and hiding a baby in time. I found it all very original and absorbing and pretty much read the second half of the book in one sitting.

In places it feels like a nice story of friendships between women, or an in-depth look at flexible morality issues, or a high action story of intrigue. There’s something of everything in there and plenty of mystery to boot. Most importantly, it was a great read and will leave me remembering the characters for some time to come. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for anything else written by this author.

time travel

Time Travel: Recent Trips starstarstar

Edited by Paula Guran

I’m very much a fan of good time travel stories, so when this anthology came up for review, I couldn’t resist. Also there was a story included by Michael Moorcock, whose fantasy writing I’ve enjoyed before. Like most anthologies with stories from a lot of different writers, there were some that were more interesting to me than others.

The editor, Paula Guran, introduces the subject with some well informed historical facts about theories of time travel from different religions and cultures, including Ancient Egypt. Newton and other philosophers get a mention for their thoughts on the subject and actually this intro was one of the most interesting parts of the book!

There are 18 stories. I have a preference for time travel adventures, and found many of the stories not quite what I expected. The first few felt a little slow to get to anything to do with time travel. The subject seems to have been widely interpreted and some stories dealt with perceptions more than actual scifi time travel.

The Man Who Ended History by Ken Liu had an interesting theory about paired particles that allow us to see light through space that got my interest, but even this was more how to view the past than to actually travel there. The Carpet Beds of Sutro Park by Kage Baker was particularly interesting, though depressing and there was some good time travel action in Mating Habits of the Late Cretaceous by Dale Bailey, though it was mainly about a failing marriage and a holiday hunting dinosaurs.

The Mists of Time by Tom Purdom was a very well written story about a slaver ship and First Flight by Mary Robinette Kowel was also a particularly well written story that had been recommended to me before. The Time Travel Club by Charlie Jane Anders brought in the movement of the earth in the mechanics of time travel, which I found interesting and September At Wall and Broad by Kristine Kathryn Rusch was another with especially good writing.

Thought Experiment by Eileen Gunn was one of the best in my opinion and had some original ideas about how time travel works, though they were reminiscent of the psychological method used in Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson with adaptations.

There seem to be a lot of time travel tourist stories around recently, not just in this collection but in general. I think the genre generally works better in novel form than in short stories, but that’s just my personal opinion. The stories in this collection were all well written from a technical point of view, though some held interest more than others. Not a bad collection, but there was nothing so amazing that it would make me rush out to see what else the author has done.

Front150

Children of the Morning starstarstarstarstar

by Shanna Lauffey

I’m definitely hooked on this series. The second book continues soon after where the first book left off. The author has said on her blog that she looks at the episodes like television episodes, and I can see that. Each episode ties up the immediate situation neatly, but there is a larger, continuing story. You don’t get left on cliffhangers, but you can see there is going to be more to tell.

This one even gave hints about what the third story will be about and I’m really looking forward to it as it sounds like we’re going to get to know Marcus better and get some extensive time travel information about how it all works and why there can be exceptions to some of the rules.

That’s one thing that was introduced in this episode, a couple of exceptions to what had appeared to be solid rules, but they are done in a believable way. It all makes perfectly good sense.

It starts out with Akalya realizing that she’s been too far in the past for too long, but she has a few things to do before she returns to her own time. Like in the first book, we get a real feel for times and places where she travels, including 1969 San Francisco. I really enjoyed that part. Some of the convolutions of time travel come up and we get to know a few characters from the first book better, as well as meeting a couple of new people. How important any of them will be over the course of the full series is hard to tell at this point, but there are a few definite main characters that I expect will keep showing up.

Most important besides Akalya herself is Marcus. I don’t want to write spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book yet, but Marcus is the strong, quiet type and the dynamics between him and Akalya has been a real tease. We learn why she has an Arabic name and some of the culture of the time shifters and I thought that the information about where some of the strange terms that were in the first book came from was artfully worked in.

The story, like Time Shifters, strikes a balance between Akalya’s relaxed attitude towards crisis and some fast action when she needs to escape a situation. As she says somewhere in the book, time is her playground. Only now some limitations are being put on her movements because those who want what the time shifters have are closing in and learning from their own mistakes. It is up to the time shifters to stay a step ahead as the enemy begins to learn too much about their habits and to set traps.

I’m not going to hesitate to give this one the 5 stars I should have given the first one. As the second book in a 10 book series, it’s sort of transitional, expanding on the information from book one and setting up book 3, but the writing is well done and the feeling of visiting the places and living through the time periods is mesmerizing. A fully enjoyable experience.

TimeShifters150

Time Shifters by Shanna Lauffey starstarstarstarhalf

I had my eye on this one recently and just picked it up. It’s a time travel novella that begins a series that promises to be really good.

The style is something I haven’t seen often. The main character begins each chapter in first person, talking to audience to explain things about her people, time travel, or events. Purists might accuse the author of telling, but it works in this form. You can imagine it in a television adaptation really easily. Then after a couple of paragraphs it switches to third person and proves that the author knows how to show. The writing is very good quality and typo-free.

The story itself is centered around a gypsy-like people who can shift through time and space, sort of like in the movie Jumpers does with just distance. They can’t do both at the same time. The rules of time travel are very well laid out over the course of the story and I was so engrossed that I read it in one evening. It’s only 92 pages. Presumably the further episodes will be similar length.

It’s part mystery as the story starts out with some of these people being abducted from public places sort of like illegal aliens get rounded up, but the kidnappers aren’t clearly identifiable and one of the things you have to read to learn is who they are and why it’s happening when no one is supposed to know these people even exist.

There are some very funny moments and a lot of action in the second half. One thing that really impressed me though is that the author reduced one of Einstein’s more complicated theories about space/time into an easy explanation that any high schooler could understand.

Although it’s a series book, there is a conclusion that satisfies the need to end a story neatly. There were a few loose ends left for future episodes and I’ll knock off half a star for making me wait, but I’ll admit that it’s sort of unfair because she had to leave something open to continue the story with.

It was a very enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to more. I’m also going to try to find the author’s other books, which are apparently out of print. It would be interesting to see what else she’s done. 4.5 stars.

stephen-king-22-11-1963

11/22/1963 by Stephen King starstarstarstarstar

I really enjoyed reading this book. Stephen King is undeniably a good writer, and even though I didn’t like his Dark Tower series, he has redeemed himself with this time travel fantasy.

Those who avoid Horror have nothing to worry about in this one. Even a couple of violent scenes aren’t overly graphic. What King has written is an atmospheric snapshot of life in 1958-1963 with some interesting concepts about the Physics of time travel. Can you really change the present by changing something in the past? That is the question that is constantly asked through this story. You’ll have to read it to get the answer.

Some of the elements near the end were not completely explained and I’m sceptical about the yellow card man. However, the book kept me gripped and took me on a journey through a time long before I was born so that it felt like being there, which is what I look for in a time travel novel.

I had mixed feelings about the characters, but the plot was superb. Definitely a recommended read.

5 stars.

Just One Damned Thing

One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor starstarstar

I thought I was really going to like this one, as some of my friends were really enthusiastic about it. Just shows that people like different things. I did like it at first, but by the time I got to the last 10% I was struggling to push myself to finish it. This book starts out with an easy, chatty writing style that draws in interest as you get to know the main characters. The dynamics between the characters is handled well and becomes significant as the story goes along. All of them are distinctive, and I found Maxwell easily likable.

Some parts of the story had me giggling my head off. Others were unpleasant to the point of being disturbing, but in the way that keeps you turning pages. There were some very serious situations where members of the team were helping to save lives in a historic crises, not knowing if it could affect history but unable to just sit and watch as people died. The time travellers come close to dying a few times themselves!

The idea that History takes care of itself is a concept I’ve come across in two other time travel novels recently and is illustrated here fairly well too.

A romance slips in awkwardly and I felt the story slowed down a lot near the middle because of it.

What’s with writers these days that they think any book should include graphic sex? I’m no prude, but halfway through a book that only had a few PG moments suddenly runs xxx. I don’t mean this to be a spoiler, but a public service warning to those who might see this as a great book for their 12-year-old niece after the first few chapters and get a surprise.

I came close to tossing it in the DNF pile at that point. If I want to read porn, there’s plenty of it available for free or cheap. I was suddenly glad I had got this one on a free day and discarded any thoughts of getting further books in the series.

There were some good parts in the second half, but it was sort of start and stop. I think a lot more could have been done with more interesting places in history and that’s probably what the author has in mind for the rest of the series, but a book that has me struggling to finish at the end doesn’t inspire me to continue. Three stars, because the actual writing was good and well-edited.

TimeTravellersWife

The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger starstarstar

I had a slow start on this book because I hate, hate, HATE present tense writing and had trouble getting into it as a result. Then I decided to persevere because everyone says it’s so good and by the time I passed the first 50 pages, I started getting caught up in the story enough that I didn’t notice as much. I won’t say that it didn’t throw me out of the story a few times, but the time travel aspects were original and kept my interest enough to decide to finish it.

One thing I found very original was that the time traveller had no control of when or where he travelled. The book explains how and why it starts and how it works so I won’t spoil that, but it made for some interesting situations. The rules also didn’t allow him to take anything with him, so every time he moved through time he appeared in a new time and place naked and never knew when he was until he found out by asking someone or finding some indication like a newspaper. You can imagine the awkward situations that led to. Like in the Terminator movies, but this time traveller couldn’t bully clothes off people and had to beg, steal or scrounge for them.

The convoluted coming and going of the time traveller as he visits his wife in her young days is very well done until halfway through when we get to their wedding. I could see what was meant to have happened, but I didn’t feel it was executed as well. The various events and situations kept interest up to that point very well, despite the present tense writing which continued to irk me every time I picked up the book to read some more. Is it possible to love a story and hate the way it’s written? This is a first for me.

There is sort of a lull after the wedding where ordinary domestic adjustments are only occasionally interrupted by time travel incidents. I found the story slowed down, but I had too much invested by then and wanted to see how it ended. There was some interestingly plausible biological exposition on the cause of Henry’s time travel, but otherwise nothing overly exciting for quite a while.

The action picked up a little but then turned depressing and I found that events were predicted too far ahead of time so that there were no real surprises. There were also a few loose ends, like one of the time traveller’s appearances that should have had significance but was never explained. Previous instances always came full circle eventually so that you learn what happened, but not this one. There was also one major inconsistency where one of the instances of time travel included detailed description of clothing but when it came up later, there was no opportunity to obtain clothing before he was gone again.

I really didn’t like the last 150 or so pages. The ending was pretty much already told and it was all very depressing. I’m glad I’ve read the book, but it won’t be a re-read for me, ever. There was enough of interest to make it worthwhile and give me some new thoughts on the theory of time travel and how it might work, at least in speculation, but I’m definitely ready to move on from this to something completely different.

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