Time travel is a fascinating concept that’s captured our imagination throughout… time?
Remember the Star Trek New Generation episode where they’re playing poker and then the ship explodes… and then they’re playing poker and the ship explodes… and then and then they’re playing poker and the ship explodes… and then…
It was one of the best episodes.
But the point at which almost all time-travel stories collapse, in my opinion, is that if you can keep doing something over again then what does it matter if you succeed or fail? Just try again.
Back to the question, which is what books would I like to time travel into?
Not many, is my answer. If you want a travel experience that is just observation then you can read a historical book or watch a TV programme or a movie. I suppose it would be interesting to hide behind a building and watch Jeri Westerson’s Crispen Guest charge past, but then I’d step out from around the building into a pile or horse dung, collapse and skin my knee (in said horse dung) and not have a tube of antiseptic at hand. Or I could observe Kelli Stanley’s Roman doctor going about his trade – as long as he didn’t want to operate on me, with nothing but a jug of wine to keep me senseless. I’d love to slip into the Savoy Saloon and Dance Hall, the star of my own Klondike Gold Rush series, when the stage show was getting underway, but I’d not care for not being able to give my clothes a good wash, and definitely not like the look of the menu at the restaurant next door – heavily featuring beans and bacon. I also suspect I’d find the odour in the Savoy somewhat overwhelming, to say the least.
But there is one time in which I’d enjoy going back to, and I recently read an old favourite written back then: Shibumi by Trevanian. The book is set in the 1980s. Our hero lives a quiet life in a lovely old house in Basque country in France. What’s the appeal?
The 1980s had everything we are familiar with today – heck it even had me! But no Internet. As I find my life more and more consumed by the Internet – checking e-mail, seeing who’s talking about me on Facebook or Twitter, any new reviews for More Than Sorrow – I find myself longing for those laptop-, iPhone-, Blackberry-less days of yore.
Yes, yes, I could give those things up, but of course I can’t and that’s why the addiction is so all-consuming.
If I didn’t have Internet, I wouldn’t be reading this blog, I wouldn’t be in contact with my friends every day, or with my daughters who live very far away (like they’re going to write letters! One of them lives in a county without postal service). I’d be like my father bellowing “Long Distance, Long Distance!” at a phone call, with an egg timer in his hand checking off the three minutes allotted. Which is the thing about the Internet – it’d be okay if no one had it, but we live in a connected world, and I can’t cut myself off.
So I’ll go back to the peaceful 1980s when the World Wide Web was but a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye, and I could get lost in a book for hours without thinking, “hum… I wonder if that TV option has come in yet. Better check.”
I completely forgot to post two weeks ago because I was caught up in the release date for MORE THAN SORROW. So, please let me take this opportunity to let you know that the book is now available at all the regular places. According to librarian-extraordinaire Lesa Holstein: “as much as I love Vicki Delany's Constable Molly Smith books, she's outdone herself with her standalone, More Than Sorrow.”