Jenkins’ (Project Dreamscape, 2011) sci-fi thriller blends time travel with the 1960s civil rights movement.
In the 25th century, a group of college students unlocks the secret behind time travel. Unfortunately, this information is leaked on the Internet, and although it’s quickly removed by the U.S. government, the damage has been done: Ordinary citizens start constructing their own time machines. That’s where Cmdr. Will Compton comes in. He’s a “Chaser,” whose job is to hunt down and eliminate time travelers before they can change the time continuum and permanently alter the future. One assignment sends Compton back to 1968 Memphis, Tenn., just before the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The event’s significance is manifold, because after a 2120 global nuclear war eradicates almost all life on Earth, one of the only remaining structures is a memorial to King—which gives the survivors hope and provides the tenets of a new government and a peaceful society. However, one malcontent group wants to alter history for its own benefit and has a plan to despoil King’s reputation. Compton must decide whether to maintain the time continuum and ensure the assassination occurs or save his hero’s life and risk changing everything. Jenkins skillfully posits moral dilemmas throughout his story; for example, at one point, Compton ponders whether to rescue his girlfriend, a fellow Chaser, before a mission that he knows will go horribly wrong. The primary plot’s energetic pace is occasionally slowed by tangents, but most end up enriching the characters, so readers will likely overlook the stops and starts. Although the novel’s attempts at humor feel forced at times, the naturalistic prose helps make the copious time-travel paradoxes comprehensible and plausible. Occasional spelling errors, such as “tuff it out,” and “loose his job,” and other minor flaws are overshadowed by the story’s sheer inventiveness.
A gamesome time-travel yarn.