Monday, January 30th, 2012
The Short Take:
This sly book is not quite the fantasy about time travel you think it is at first glance. Or is it? Written like three novellas with a common thread, it is witty, sweet, a bit frightening, and has H. G. Wells as a central character. What more can you want?
I admit to a fondness for fantasy. I also like it when real people are incorporated into fiction books: In addition to Wells, you encounter Jack the Ripper, Bram Stoker, and more. So right away this book has two things in its favor for me. But what really wins me over is the way Palma sends his story line down one path and then suddenly veers off in a surprising new direction. I just really enjoy it when a writer puts one over on me, so to speak.
There’s so much that is fresh and interesting in this novel. For example, there’s a sequence between H. G. Wells and the Elephant Man (aka Joseph Merrick) that is excellent reading though it doesn’t really have a lot to do with the story. With gems like this scattered throughout the book, plus the engaging three main stories, there’s a lot to enjoy. I certainly did.
A Little Plot:
As usual with me, very little. I hate giving things away.
Set in Victorian England, right after Well’s success with The Time Machine, all three story lines (which do intertwine) have to do with time travel. A recently opened business, Murray’s Time Travel, which takes people to a specific point in the future, also weaves throughout.
The first story centers on a suicidal young man who yearns for his now dead (and highly inappropriate) lover. He wants to go back in time.
The second story involves a bright young woman who feels suffocated by the restrictions placed on her in the present and wants to travel to the more adventurous future.
While both these stories involved H. G. Wells in some way, he plays a central role in the third. Someone is using the fourth dimension of time to steal unpublished masterpieces from their authors. This is the one that can really make your head spin.
Originally written in Spanish, the author’s website has an English option. If you would like to know more about him and this book, click here.