Cowdrey’s SF debut: a conflation of four time-travel stories, some previously published in magazines.
In the 25th century, democracy is a long-forgotten concept: the Controller, ancient, sex-obsessed Xian Xi-Qing, rules the world from the city Ulanor. Her security chief, Colonel Yamashita, learns that a subversive group known as the Crux has stolen a just-invented time machine. It has sent operative Dyeva back to 2091, the year when a ghastly world war killed 12 billion people and laid the foundations of the current harsh, repressive regime. Yamashita launches his old pal, the ne’er-do-well agent Steffens Alexander, back in time to stop Dyeva. Reality survives, but not in the way that history assumes. Yamashita quickly founds an agency to produce timesurfers, agents dedicated to protecting the past (lest the present be changed also, wiping everybody out). Agent Hastings Maks and his half-alien sidekick Zo Lian, dispatched to 2050, must locate archcriminal Loki and interfere with his plans to change the past: things work out, but not as Maks expects. In another adventure, Maks must unravel the plot behind the kidnapping of his own son, Sandi; and finally he must unmask a conspiracy to kill the Controller and depose the current leadership—and find a way to save himself and his family from the war that ensues.
Cowdrey’s time-travel notions, clinging to orthodox cause-and-effect, offer as few surprises as his nasty, brutish, but otherwise undistinguished Asian-Russian-American future society. Pedestrian stuff, especially when (unavoidably) compared with Kage Baker’s brilliant series (The Life of the World to Come (p. 988, etc.).