Tag Archives: time travelling

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of KINDLE Ebook The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas #Brainfluffbookreview #ThePsychologyofTimeTravelbookreview

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I’ve been eyeing this one with enthusiasm and was delighted to be able to get hold of it via Netgalley. Apart from anything else – that cover is to die for…

In 1967, four female scientists worked together to build the world’s first time machine. But just as they are about to debut their creation, one of them suffers a breakdown, putting the whole project—and future of time travel—in jeopardy. To protect their invention, one member is exiled from the team—erasing her contributions from history. Fifty years later, time travel is a big business. Twenty-something Ruby Rebello knows her beloved grandmother, Granny Bee, was one of the pioneers, though no one will tell her more. But when Bee receives a mysterious newspaper clipping from the future reporting the murder of an unidentified woman, Ruby becomes obsessed: could it be Bee? Who would want her dead? And most importantly of all: can her murder be stopped?

Firstly, if you are in the habit of diving in and skimming your way through a story – that reading tactic won’t work here. This is a densely written, tightly crafted book with a non-linear timeline that means you need to slow down and pay attention when reading this one. And if you approached this one, thinking that you would be in for the kind of adventurous mayhem offered by Jodi Taylor in her Chronicles of St Mary’s series – again, you’d be wrong. It’s nothing of the sort. So now we’ve got the two fundamental mistakes I committed when first approaching this one out of the way – let’s address what it is.

For once, the title is spot on – this book addresses what regular time travelling does to the travellers. Unlike most time-travelling books, this one doesn’t take us on forays into the past or future, but concentrates on a small handful of people who are profoundly affected by time travelling and follows their story. I was intrigued that some didn’t even time travel themselves – Ginger, for instance – but were connected in some way to people who did. Told in multiple viewpoint, the story weaves around a tightly-knit group for whom the ordinary rules of the universe no longer apply. Led by someone innately arrogant and entitled, Grace’s viewpoint pervades the group and anyone who disagrees with her viewpoint is forced to leave. Apparently driven by a fear that the project will be shut down on the grounds that time travel causes mental illness, Grace institutes rigorous checks, including nasty games designed to foster an indifference towards death in the travellers.

How can an outsider find a way into this group to discover details about a mysterious death? As the story jumps between the characters and different timelines, we gain an insight into the motivations and lives of a handful of women all somehow involved in the particular death, or time travelling. It is an engrossing, clever read packed with telling character details that have had me mulling over this one ever since I put it down. And, exceptionally, I’m tempted to go back and reread it – something I hardly ever do. Partly, because while I thoroughly enjoyed it and am in awe of the writing talent that is Mascarenhas – I didn’t love it. Being a rather simple soul, I need to be able to bond with at least one of the main characters and other than poor Bee – I didn’t.

I’m really sorry about that, because the other outstanding aspect of this book is that the only male characters who appear are incidental. For once, I’m reading a book where every single person who has agency and matters is a woman – I can’t tell you after growing up in the 60s and 70s what an amazing feeling that is. I just wished I cared more about at least one of these brave, powerful females. However, that doesn’t diminish the book’s importance or lessen my appreciation of the writing skill on display and I shall definitely be looking out for more by this immensely talented author. While I obtained an arc of The Psychology of Time Travel from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
10/10

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Review of KINDLE Ebook A Trail Through Time – Book 4 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s by Jodi Taylor #Brainfluffbookrevew #ATrailThroughTimebookreview

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I’ve read and enjoyed some of the books in this rollicking time travelling adventure tale and wanted more of Max’s escapades after reading a particularly intense YA dystopian tale.

Max and Leon are re-united and looking forward to a peaceful lifetime together. But, sadly, they don’t even make it to lunchtime. The action races from 17th century London to Ancient Egypt and from Pompeii to 14th century Southwark as they’re pursued up and down the timeline, playing a perilous game of hide and seek until they’re finally forced to take refuge at St Mary’s – where new dangers await them. As usual, there are plenty of moments of humour, but the final, desperate, Battle of St Mary’s is in grim earnest. Overwhelmed and outnumbered and with the building crashing down around them, how can St Mary’s possibly survive? So, make sure the tea’s good and strong…

Once again Taylor weaves her magic with this entertaining and uniquely Brit take on time travelling adventure. Very loosely inspired by Bletchley, the institution of St Mary’s investigates specific times in history for a shadowy organisation that we feel are a covert part of the government. Consequently, there is a lot of make do and mend as there is not much money in the kitty. This time around, Max discovers a new threat which not only endangers her and Leon, but also threatens the very existence of St Mary’s itself.

As ever, threading through the overarching threat posed, are a number of entertaining episodes set at intriguing times in history, as Max and Leon desperately try to evade their pursuers. These include struggling to evade Nile crocodiles in ancient Egypt, and dodging burning projectiles and smothering ash during the eruption that wipes out Pompeii. All this is told through the viewpoint of Max. She is an adrenaline-junkie with a troubled past and the desert-dry sense of humour that pervades the stories she tells. I love her character, the magnificent understatements regarding some of the madcap adventures she is describing, which makes the tragedy that inevitably accompanies some of the more dangerous exploits, even more poignant. This is indeed a book where I laughed out loud and a few pages later had a lump in my throat – Taylor is an author always manages to produce that reaction in me when I’m reading her books. The battle is a magnificent climax and, as ever, the book ends just in the right place. Thank goodness I have the next one on my Kindle, ready for me to tuck into…

Recommended for fans of time travelling adventure. Though whatever you do, start with the first book in the series, Just One Damned Thing After Another – see my review here – as otherwise, you simply won’t appreciate all the goodness that is layered within The Chronicles of St Mary’s series.
9/10

Review of the film The Time Traveler’s Wife

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Released in the summer of 2009, The Time Traveler’s Wife is based on Audrey Niffenegger’s bestselling book of the same name, which I felt was an interesting, nuanced examination of a much hackneyed subject. There was a lot of anticipation around the film, given Brad Pitt’s involvement as one of the producers – especially after the postponement of the original release date back in 2008.

time traveler's wifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife follows the fortunes of Clare, (played by Rachel McAdams) and Henry (Eric Bana) after they meet in a library. However, this is far from being an everyday romance. Henry has a genetic condition causing him to travel in time – which makes it sound far more sedate and orderly than it turns out to be… Whenever he is stressed or upset, poor Henry is yanked out of his life and deposited elsewhere, minus his clothes. And that initial meeting in the library isn’t your average girl meets boy and falls in love, either. As their eyes meet, Clare lights up in delighted recognition – it turns out that she’s known Henry since she was a little girl as he regularly turned up in the meadow behind her house all through her life during his time-travelling episodes… Loving Henry comes at a very high price, however. They never know exactly when Henry will disappear – or reappear. And then there’s the unpleasant fact that Clare has never seen him any older than his early 40’s…

Throughout the film, Bana and McAdams both give solid performances and as the story winds to its climax, there are moments of real emotion. The fading palmprint of Henry’s hand on the window, near the end, is powerful and moving. However I did feel the script didn’t really give these two very capable actors a chance to really dig deep. Somehow the dialogue managed to slide over the surface of the huge subjects tackled in the film and the book. The odd touches of humour were effective, and I did wonder whether the screenwriter was hankering to turn this into a classic romantic comedy. He certainly did a real makeover on Henry, who isn’t nearly raggedly fraught enough as he finds himself continually sliding into another timeline, away from the family he loves. The supporting cast all do an excellent job and I particularly enjoyed Fiona Reid’s splendid portrayal of Clare’s tactless mother, while Ron Livingstone’s performance as Gomez is entirely satisfactory, given the limited scope of the role.

The cinematography is accomplished, with a deft use of lighting to underline the increasing sense of crisis, with the film’s settingstime traveler's wife.2 staying very true to the book. In fact, I was surprised at just how faithful the film was to the fragmented storyline – and here, for me, lies a major problem. I found myself continually recalling scenes from the book that underscored a particular emotion or issue touched on in the film. Like the book, the film skips between different timelines. However, unlike the book, we do not have the benefit of the strong narrative voice to steer us through, while the few grey hairs Bana displays to give us a clue as to which Henry we are watching are not a sufficiently strong visual prompt. I didn’t get confused, but I have a hunch that is because I’d already read the book. I believe that a voiceover a la Benjamin Button by either Henry or Clare would have given the viewer a much better sense of the timeline and a sharper feel for the characters.

While we get the odd nod to one of the issues raised by the book – ‘I never had a choice!’ McAdams yells as an infuriated Clare – the film seems too intent on conveying a classic Hollywood ‘love conquers all’ message. Whereas the book was far more interestingly ambivalent, particularly at the end.

All in all, while The Time Traveler’s Wife certainly doesn’t deserve the panning it has had from certain directions, neither is it the real masterpiece it could have been. The limited emotional range of the screenplay and reliance on old Hollywood clichés ultimately sold the actors and the audience short.
7/10

Review of Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

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I picked up this copy of the book as an SF Masterworks because as a solid fan of many women fantasy and science fiction writers, I had never read her work and I discovered it was a Hugo Award winner. I’m so glad I did…

doomsdayWhen Kivrin Engle travels back through time to complete her doctoral thesis, due to an accident she lands in the middle of a major crisis her Faculty were struggling to avoid. Meanwhile the Oxford she left behind is laid low by a mysterious strain of influenza and, with no one willing to risk arranging her rescue, time is running out…

This book, indeed, deserves to be part of the SF Masterworks series – from the moment I opened the first page I knew I was in the hands of a great writer at the top of her game. Willis sets the scene in Oxford’s near future with deft dexterity, her characters crackle with humanity and there is a bone-dry humour running through the whole story that helps to make the grim adventure Kivrin endures bearable.

Mr Dunsworthy – who opposed the whole hare-brained notion of Kivrin going back to this particular time, yet somehow found himself caught up in helping her – is an outstanding character. The book is largely in his and Kivrin’s viewpoint and as the situation in both timelines slides away into chaos, it is these two main characters on whom the whole story arc rests. Willis lays bare the internecine struggles within the famous University with a sense of gentleness that is refreshing in a genre which often exposes human frailty with ruthless savagery. There are a couple of characters who resort to petty rule-hugging in order to protect themselves, but most of the people depicted step up and do their best in increasingly awful circumstances.

Be warned though – Willis can lull you into a false sense of security. While the writing style can seem gentle, she is unflinching in her depiction of one of the worst tragedies in human history. Part of the ironic humour is the academic studies – with often ludicrous pontificating by esteemed members of the History Faculty – set against the terrible reality that confronts Kivrin. Willis manages to make the medieval family that takes Kivrin in, entirely plausible – despite her initial struggles with the translating device that doesn’t work as planned – and we get to know them well, from the curious and bright five year old Agnes right through to the rigidly proper mother-in-law from Hell… And if anyone is in any doubt that this is the best Time to have been born, especially for a woman, then read the account of a small village on the outskirts of Oxford struggling to survive a harsh winter. Personally, I snuggled under the covers of my electrically heated bed and offered up silent thanks.

I have a soft spot for time travelling books – when done well, as in Kage Baker’s Company novels, they take a lot of beating. This offering from Connie Willis is right up there with the best of them and if you come across a copy, pick it up. Better still, give yourself a treat and actively hunt down this book – you won’t regret it.
10/10