At the End of Time, by Gary C Reynolds - 3 Stars

This is an example of a relatively good time travel story spoiled by poor readability, especially early on before readers have become used to the pattern. Specifically, the book has been written in the present tense but the characters’ speech is sometimes in the past tense. In other words, and this isn’t a quote, sentences are phrased like a theatre stage direction: “Daniel is walking towards the curtain and is opening it. The sunlight is coming through and Daniel is thinking.” I read the whole book and was pleased to see the story is alright underneath the surface problem but my advice to the author would be to unpublish the e-book and re-write it in the third person past tense, then republish it. That would also give the opportunity to fix the awkward repetition of the word “box” on page 16, “ball” on page 17 and around 4 spelling typos. After that, the book would be ship-shape, enjoyable and I think better understood.

Anyone can say they prefer this tense or that but we should also consider the context because this is a time travel story. Speaking about an event in the future using the past tense is a tricky proposition because, theoretically, changing something in the present could generate a different future (or time line), causing the same event you remember in both your past and future to cease to exist. The pedantic amongst us might prefer to create the future conditional probable clausative tense to solve this inconsistency once and for all (depending which time line we select), although that sort of thinker would ultimately write something sensationally unreadable, win the Booker Prize and deserve to be spanked.

The story itself builds slowly but improves when the author finds his voice and frees the imagination. The protagonist zips between a pirate ship in the days of yore to the 1930s, then a future conflict that changed history, a rebellion in the last human city against its controlling dictator and at then to check out the far end of this book’s non-linear time line on a space station. There’s a hero, a love interest, henchmen and lots of lovely airships, all complicated by a time-controlling goddess figure with human frailties. The identity of the dictator figure was supposed to be a surprise but that was an incy wincy bit guessable by anyone over the age of fifteen, I have to say.

The story was alright, I should emphasize that, but any independent-minded reader will surely agree with me that selecting the present tense wasn’t the best way to go. Another reviewer gave this two stars but I’ll give it three because I am confident it can be fixed – and then you’ll like it.

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