57 in my 2011 book blogging challenge.
Map of Time is a delightful read. It’s a novel made up of three separate novellas. HG Wells is a character in all three stories, and the last story ties them all together.
Inspired by The Time Machine, the book features both fictional characters and historical figures. Every story has some basis in the idea of time travel, though in some cases people have only been duped into believing in time travel, and in other cases they’ve been affected by actual instances of time travel. They just don’t know it’s happened when it does happen because once history has been changed they only remember their alternate history and not the one they had before messing with time. It’s all pretty crazy and interesting.
I for one am also a sucker for a good Victorian crime novel, and we’ve got that here with the first story centering around the death of a Whitechapel prostitute at the hands of Jack the Ripper. In this story, a young man is duped into believing he has gone back in time to change his own actions the night of the murder. Although he didn’t go anywhere and only reenacted that particular night, he feels better for believing the reenactment was real even if it could have only been real in a parallel reality. The very fact of believing his part turned out differently than it really did turned his whole life around. It saved him from his own guilt and ultimately saved his life.
Thus, we have a complex web woven of ideas about time and ideas about perception and reality. Add to that brief appearances by Bram Stoker and Henry James, and you have a real winner.
This is an easy read. It’s longish, but it is broken into three parts that are all self-contained and could be read individually. Even as a whole, they go by fast and are all fairly entertaining. This is a book that will make you laugh while giving your mind something to chew on for a while. If, like me, your fondest wish as a child was to take a ride in the Tardis, this is a book for you.