An innovative time-travel tale in which the main characters don’t actually visit the past or the future.

QUANTUM TIME THEORY

JOURNALS OF A TRAVELER THROUGH TIME

Eight elite brothers and sisters try to survive the regular upheavals caused by reckless time traveling.

Huston’s debut novel, starting a new sci-fi series (planned as 10 books), delivers a clever time-travel conceit. It involves the consequences of time travel (immortalized in Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”): reality in the “present” shifts due to temporal meddling in the past. After time travel becomes feasible, the U.S. has a new metropolis—Shawneetown, Illinois, evidently displacing Chicago, created through engineering by entrepreneurial voyagers. But for the Vann family of Shawneetown, life means periodic, bewildering paradigm shifts, as new waves of reality hit one after another, sending the clan scrambling to dimensional “Safe Houses.” The Vanns never know whether former careers, relationships, or even their personalities still exist. At least they are semi-protected; most people are oblivious “Bystanders,” erased or created whenever another human-caused Timestorm arrives. To the time-travel insiders, Bystanders are as inconsequential as Harry Potter’s muggles. The narrative (which is epistolary, journal entries via some form of recording device) reflects the point of view of young, uncertain Dexter Vann, an aspiring engineer warned not to count on finishing college by oldest brother Amos (an elite in the enigmatic time-travel governing body). Every few chapters, a new reality (“Season”) dawns. Some Seasons are harsh and weird; others are pleasant. But with Time Changes happening 250 times already, Dexter suffers a bad case of existential dread, turning very personal when he emerges into a reality in which his “Alternate Self” possessed a girlfriend he has never actually met. The tale is somewhat hobbled plotwise by its premise. The challenge here is advancing a storyline that resets itself on a regular basis. Huston manages some momentum, partially thanks to the recurring menace of a vengeful time “Void Pirate” but mainly through reliable inventiveness. There’s a newspaper—actually an “Oldspaper”—for the time-travel clique; time-related neuroses that surface to varying degrees in Dexter’s older and younger siblings (a glossary is included); and the protagonist’s own inconsistent voice. It’s difficult enough to find an identity as a youth; it’s much harder with reality routinely rewritten. Underlying the wit, wonder, and surprises is a theme of family bonds holding characters together despite the whole Chronoverse going crazy. The material is attuned to both YA and adult sensibilities.

An innovative time-travel tale in which the main characters don’t actually visit the past or the future.

Pub Date: March 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946090-00-3

Page Count: 402

Publisher: Chronoversal Export

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

more