Friday, November 16, 2012

A Question of Time

This is a review of A Question of Time (AQOT), a novel by Joanne Renaud.

AQOT is a time-travel romance that takes the protagonist, a successful SF writer, back in time to the 1980s. I don't read a lot of romances, but I know a fair bit about time travel stories as you can read about here. So, if it seems I'm more in touch with H. G. Wells, than Barbara Cartland, don't be surprised.

I should start with another disclaimer. I know Joanne because she illustrates for my story The Aristotelian and my anthology Finding Time. So I'm biased, but I won't lie. I happen to know a little bit about the '80s since I was a callow youth at the time fresh out of graduate school with a nifty gubmint job as a Cryptologic mathematician living in Laurel, Maryland.

This is an interesting coincidence because AQOT really starts when the protagonist goes spinning out of control on a rain-slicked highway and finds herself in outside a library in 1980s Maryland. Since I used to haunt the Laurel Public Library in the '80s, I felt right at home.

The protagonist, is a 30-something girl named Ceci, who still carries a torch for Alan, her high school writing teacher. Not that they ever were romantically entangled when she was a kid, but that she admired the guy, sought his approval and felt horrid when she showed up for class on Monday morning to learn he'd tragically died in a car wreck.

As you may expect, the library in Maryland where Ceci time-travels to just happens to be where the not-yet-dead teacher is borrowing a book. She doesn't quite believe she's traveled in time and so she is quite forward with the fellow, because she thinks him to be a fig-newton of her imagination.

This works out well and a whirlwind romance ensues. Nevertheless, the fact that the fellow died in a car accident haunts the narrative like a dark cloud.

Since both Ceci and Alan share an interest in writing and science fiction, their pillow talk entails plots they have in mind for stories they intend to write, and as well as Dan Simmons's Hyperion series that she's read, but he hasn't because it hasn't been finished yet.

One complaint I had was that for Science Fiction writers, they were bit a slow to consider time travel as a possible explanation for their experiences. Granted, the circumstances of the time-travel were more like those of Somewhere In Time than Back To The Future. It's a pet peeve of mine when being in denial of time-travel occupies a protagonist for more than a few pages. If you warp ME back to 1989, I'm going to spend about 30 seconds in denial. Then a millisecond later, I'm going to be buying Apple and Microsoft stock. I think Alan could have figured out the mysterious woman he took home was from the future based on the various slips she makes.

I thought Ceci and Alan were believable and likeable characters I enjoyed spending an evening with. The story brought back memories of the '80s. And that's where Joanne Renaud really shined, she caught the atmosphere/spirit of the '80s spot-on. I felt I was transported back to those days. (That computer on the left isn't the H-89 I owned back in 1989, but it's close.)

I'm pleased to give A Question of Time a 5 star review.

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