Glenn (Sovereign’s Pairing, 2014) tells the story of an anthropologist who travels back in time to document a famous Native American chief in person.
In the 23rd century, UCLA anthropologist Kirk Iglesias gets an unusual opportunity: to travel back to 1860 to film a docudrama about the Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise, who led his people against U.S. government troops. “You’ll be able to relate to us why he did what he did and tell us the story,” explains the project’s benefactor, Silva. “When you come back, all the mysteries will be solved….We’ll make billions.” As an expert on the indigenous peoples of the Southwest and possibly a direct descendant of Cochise himself, Kirk can’t say no. With cameras implanted in his body, along with other enhancements that make him “stronger, faster,” and “Able to see farther,” Kirk is a near superman in the Wild West, outshooting and outrunning every person he encounters. Even so, there are some complications that technology can’t address. For one, Silva’s team sent Kirk back to 1861, not 1860, meaning that he arrives just after the U.S. Army executed three of Cochise’s relatives, which has destroyed the chief’s trust in white people. For another, Kirk meets a widow named Magdelena and develops romantic feelings for her. Also, as he attempts to get close to Cochise, he must intelligently navigate the politics of the Apache. Glenn tells Kirk’s story with a level of expertise that demonstrates his thorough research of the time period. The verisimilitude of the Apache culture of the Old West provides an effective background for the novel’s sci-fi elements, which really pop. Unfortunately, the text is marred by awkward syntax and numerous grammatical errors (“The culture he would be immersed in, were completely tribal”), which repeatedly take the reader out of the story. There are some one-dimensional characters as well; Silva, for instance, comes off as a cartoonish version of a greedy business executive. Glenn does hit familiar sci-fi genre notes, though, resulting in a final product that functions well enough, despite its lack of polish.
A well-researched time-travel novel, hampered by clumsy prose.