FLIGHT 39 by Phillip P.  Peterson


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A sci-fi novel tells the story of a pilot sent back to 1939 on a very special mission.

Christoph Wilder is an amazing pilot, as he proves during an emergency landing after losing two engines of his trans-Atlantic passenger jet. Christoph should be a hero, but instead he’s blamed for the death of an elderly passenger, just like his son continues to hold him responsible for the death of his wife in a car accident. When his airline grounds him for good, Christoph takes a vague job with the German Aerospace Center. He learns that his new bosses have developed time-travel technology and plan to try it out in small increments—going back no more than 24 hours in the past. But during the first test run, the plane is hijacked by Christoph’s co-pilot, who has other plans for how to use the breakthrough: “Our destination is November 7, 1939….We will kill Adolf Hitler!” The temptation to avert the worst war in human history may be strong, but what will the effect be on the present? How does this scheme relate to a simultaneous narrative about a man named Herbert Steinmann living in a bunker on some alternative, nuclear-ravaged Earth? And, if he survives all of this, can Christoph harness the technology to reverse the worst event of his own timeline, the accident that killed his wife? Peterson (Paradox 2, 2018, etc.) writes in a polished, muscular prose that replicates the calm, pragmatic voice of his pilot protagonist: “Christoph knew that with the waves of the North Atlantic, they had no chance of landing the huge aircraft….The wings would be torn off, the cabin would overturn and the wreckage, with the passengers still strapped in their seats, would sink like a stone.” The author takes a while getting to the novel’s main action, though this gives him time to assemble the backstories of Christoph and the other characters. The book is more thoughtful than its simple premise suggests, and while the plot follows the typical time-travel narrative arc, Peterson does a good enough job hiding the ball that the twists feel satisfying.

A well-executed time-travel tale.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-987580-76-1
Page count: 260pp
Publisher: Self
Program: Kirkus Indie
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