Review: Time Travelers Never Die

Time Travelers Never Die
Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Michael Shelbourne mysteriously disappears from his home, sending his son Adrian on a quest to find him. What he discovers is that his father, a reknown physicist, has managed to create a time travel device packaged much like an iPod. Adrian and his friend Dave embark on a quest to discover where in time his father has disappeared to, and why he hasn't returned.

Overall I enjoyed this book, and I would likely have enjoyed it more if I were a history buff. There are all sorts of references to historical events and people that I'm hesitant to admit I know very little about. One thing that frustrated me is that there are points in the story where the solution to a plot point or question are painfully obvious, yet the characters trudge on, completely oblivious to what should be right in front of their face. It would be one thing if these were men thrust into a completely unexpected situation outside of their normal pursuits, but these are a college professor and son of a physics genius. This is a minor quibble though.

Philosophically, I have to disagree with one of the major plot elements of the book. The author introduces a "cardiac principle" whereby anyone who attempts to modify an event that has been observed such that it can no longer be observed will be foiled in their attempt, possibly by being killed. This would infer that all time is fated. All of the major events we experience in our lifetime were fated to be and no other experience is possible. That's not an idea I agree with. It doesn't detract from the story, but I had to put my thoughts out there on the matter.

The sci-fi element of this story is pretty light, so I would recommend this to historical fiction fans who like to dabble in sci-fi before I would recommend it to science fiction fans with a penchant for history.

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Review: Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No Stars
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

King is known for striving for high page count, so it is always nice to come across a selection of his short (by King standards) stories. As explained in the acknowledgments at the end of the book, these are stories that ask what would a real person do in this situation. There is very little of the supernatural here.

The longest and possibly most difficult to get through of the stories. A study in how the torment of guilt can ruin your life.

Big Driver
This one reminded me of the exploitation film "I spit on your grave". If you were mildly famous and something tragic happened to you, what would you do?

Fair Extension
I think this is my favorite from this book. A man doomed by cancer meets a salesman who can give him an extension on his life at the price of 15% of his salary for the remainder of his years. Oh, and he has to pick someone else to be saddled with the burden of bad luck that is being lifted from his own shoulders. I Like this especially due to the fact that the protagonist is so blissfully unapologetic about the troubles that befall his friend.

A Good Marriage
What would you do if, after decades of marriage, you discovered your spouse was hiding a terrible, terrible secret? Would you be able to live with it? Would you be able to live with yourself?

The paperback edition I read also included an additional short story.

Under the Weather
It's hard not to spoil this one as it is so short, but I did like it. Would you be able to say goodbye to the one you love?

Overall, I think this is an excellent collection of short stories. Many are going to feel familiar, but King's storytelling style keeps them interesting. Also, these are told without the usual gotchas and twists. I'd recommend to anyone who is a fan of King's work, or just looking to see how dark the human soul can be.

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Jade Mason