TWICE UPON A TIME by Allen Appel


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A high-speed, deftly handled sequel to Appel's successful time-travel fantasy, Time After Time (1985). In Appel's first, 20th-century Alex Balfour adventured to critical acclaim through revolutionary Russia. Here, Alex slides between the present and late 19th-century Reconstruction-era America. How? It has something to do with the fact that his father was a historian, all that travelling around with dad as a kid, something in the genes--no matter: Appel shrewdly avoids technical explanations that would freeze-frame his action. At the same time that Alex's reporter girlfriend is assigned to investigate an indian reservation shooting, Alex finds himself transported back to an at-first indeterminate setting, which, upon closer inspection, turns out to be the fairgrounds of the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. While Molly is researching possible links between the reservation shooting, the slaughter at Little Bighorn, and a Sioux claiming to be a descendant of Crazy Horse, Alex soaks up the Exposition, which includes a heinous exhibit: a tepee and two Sioux prisoners ""donated"" by General Custer. Philadelphia has a few bright spots, though: a chance encounter with Mark Twain leads to some plausibly amusing banter about inventions and the state of man. Befriended by a black employee of the fair, Alex endeavors to free the Indians before P.T. Barnum arrives to make their exhibit part of his permanent collection. Twain pitches in, and the result is a riverboat episode that suggests a source for the as-yet unwritten Huckleberry Finn, as well as a nexus to the slaughter at Little Bighorn and a modern Sioux uprising. Joining time-travel, authentic backgrounds, and speculative fancy, Appel has come up with a lightweight vehicle for historical fiction that works.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1988
Publisher: Carroll & Graf