by Brian Reaves
What would you give to change your past?
Joseph Turner's life was irrevocably altered by a mistake he made fifteen years ago. As a result, the girl he loved died while he was powerless to save her. He never forgave himself.
Now, he has the opportunity to change that event and shape the past to his own design. Haunted by his mistakes, Joseph invents the world's first working time machine - and he's going back to make things right. Unfortunately, each time he steps through the portal, things get worse. But he will find a way to save her - no matter what the consequences. And if he succeeds, the last fifteen years will have never happened.
The only person who can stop him is Tim Jarrell, Joseph's best friend who's running through the years to reach him before it's too late.
Two men fight to control yesterday. Only one will succeed. The race has begun. The past...is history.
Volume 1 of The Timeslip Trilogy
iUniverse, Inc (August 2003). Trade paperback. 244 pages.
Author Web Site(s): http://www.brianreaves.net/
Author Interview: See the November 7, 2003 Edenstar interview with Brian Reaves.
Check out reviews at Amazon.com of Portal.
See the review at ChristianFictionReview.com.
Joseph Turner is a brilliant researcher who has one driving goal: to perfect a time machine. His secret plan is to go back 15 years to correct a tragic mistake that cost the life of Carla Gerrard, the girl he loved.
Thanks to the financial and technological backing of Strand Industries, Joseph succeeds in building a TMD: a Temporal Manipulation Device. With Thomas Strand pushing for results, Joseph risks his life as the first human subject in his experiments-even though the first time traveler, a rabbit, died. Joseph embarks on a quest to rewrite his tragic history. And it will all be so easy….
But his haste leads to new and potentially disastrous consequences. Joseph's assistant and best friend, Tim Jarrell, discovers a critical flaw in the settings that results in psychotic changes in Joseph. Tim corrects the flaw and chases Joseph back to the past to prevent Joseph's destruction. After some unexpected interference, multiples of Tim and Joseph appear, chasing and being chased through the past. With history being continually rewritten for the characters, the plot takes several turns. It is to the author's credit that he brings this complex story to a satisfying conclusion, with room for two announced sequels.
Author Brian Reaves has created a complex storyline the reader can follow, although I did need to reread some of the trickier sections. But they work. There are several throwaway bits that are easy to ignore as incidental, but they become crucial later. There is no deus ex machina. The subplots are integral and can't be told linearly.
A key aspect of this kind of story is that time travel changes reality. The descriptions of the changes are vivid and imaginative, especially when characters see them coming. Joseph's gradual adaptation to the new reality that he's caused is also believable.
There is comic relief, both in dialogue and in situations. It adds to the realism in a story that's otherwise far-fetched, as are all time-travel stories. Joseph's escape from Strand's bathroom is a hoot, as is Ted the overly enthusiastic security guard.
Portal is primarily a story of two likeable, plausible friends who happen to be involved in a time-travel adventure. Mr. Reaves successfully keeps the emphasis on the characters-their personalities, relationships, and motivations. For example, Tim has been a Christian since his youth. His faith is clear and present, but isn't regularly thrust at the reader. His one extended faith conversation with Joseph is believable, not a cliché.
Carla's scenes are heartwrenching. They have an emotional dimension that is uncommon in science fiction and they show that the author understands his characters and what drives them. In spite of her minimal presence, we can see why she moves Joseph so much, and why he will do anything to save her.
Ashton is the most enigmatic character. He's barely there, but has a commanding presence whenever he appears. Clearly, his role will grow in the next two volumes, but in this book it's ambiguous.
Mr. Reaves introduces the necessary science without distracting the reader. His explanations are plausible, clear, and coincide with established speculations. I don't know whether he could have elaborated about "light cones" without becoming unreadable, but this is a small quibble. The only actual gap is the reference to a "mysterious substance" used in building the time machine. A brief explanation of its origin would be helpful.
My single concern is the violence. It's brief, but it's intense. However, it involves a semi-psychotic character acting out of uncontrollable rage. It's not a significant factor, but it does illustrate the evil that has begun to corrupt him. His return to sanity is believable.
Overall, this is one of the most satisfying books I've read in a long time. Since it's the first in a trilogy, there are questions that won't be answered until the next books. And we can be sure that the story won't be dragged out until the end of time! Highly recommended.
Reviewed October 25, 2003 for Edenstar by Bill Bader.
Product Code: 1515