THE IRON BRIDGE by David Morse


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By the year 2047, following ecological collapse and the Petroleum Wars, vast areas of the globe are radioactive, governments have splintered into corporate fiefdoms, and mutating viruses are mopping up the few survivors. The commune of Ecosophia, in the American desert, is also dying, but maybe, using a revolutionary mental technique, one person can travel back into the past and change things. So, in the year 1773, Maggie Foster arrives naked in the middle of an earthquake at Coalbrookdale in the English Midlands. Here, the world’s first iron bridge will be built, accelerating the Industrial Revolution and the devastation that will follow. But what if, thought the Ecosophians, instead of standing for centuries, the bridge collapsed shortly after completion? Might this change the thrust and direction of the future? First, Maggie must worm her way into the community of 1773 by finding a job in the household of ironmaster Abraham Darby III, whose ambition is to build the very bridge that Maggie hopes to destroy. Abraham, a Quaker, refuses to allow his iron to be made into cannons, unlike his ambitious and unscrupulous neighbor and rival ironmaster John Wilkinson. But as Maggie becomes more and more integrated into the lives of the Darby family and the other people around her, the less sure she is that the Ecosophians’ chosen course of action will be effective. Time travel and its consequences are the least satisfactory aspects of this first novel, an otherwise richly evocative and fascinating piece of historical speculation.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-15-100259-2
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998