ALL OF AN INSTANT by Richard Garfinkle


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Another memorably strange construct from Garfinkle, whose previous outing, Celestial Matters (1996), depicted a universe where the natural laws as understood by the ancient Greeks were literally true. Time itself is the focus here. The lower half of time, the Flux, is solid and subject to cause and effect; the upper half, the Instant, is a surging ocean whose every wavelet changes reality in the Flux. So, whoever controls the Instant controls reality, and therefore the Instant is a perpetual battleground where Time Warriors struggle to impose their own notion of perfection on the Flux, and attempt to enslave the time-bound folk and turn them into new warriors. Time Warriors have tails whose length is proportional to their memories; each warrior’s consciousness moves along the tail and then recycles. Nir, the War Chief of the Ghost warriors, must venture into the Instant to study an incomprehensible but perhaps vitally important new piece of technology. Expert thief Kookatchi is a Drum, a warrior whose memory is less than a minute long, but he was born into the Dreamtime and so can perceive the Instant as a timeless whole; this permits him to slip through the waves undetected and unharmed. In the ocean deeps dwells QuillithÇ, the Instant’s greatest strategist; her task is to ensure that no single group dominates in the endless war. Eventually, these three will meet, combine their skills, and bring about a new kind of time. Mind-boggling but numbingly abstruse: easy to admire but nearly impossible to read.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86617-8
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Tor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999