Monday, January 18, 2010

Time Travelers Never Die -- Jack McDevitt

When i was a kid, one of the first grown-up SF stories I read was "E for Effort" by T. L. Sherred. It was in some fat Groff Conklin anthology that was full of great stories, but of them all, this one excited me the most. It's still one of my favorite SF stories, and I've read it several times since then. It never fails to impress me, and it's one reason I enjoy time-travel stories so much. So you have to take that into account when I say that I got a kick out of Jack McDevitt's Time Travelers Never Die.

The novel begins with as a kind of crime story. Shel Shelbourne appears to have been murdered. But then he reveals himself to his friend Dave Dryden. Shel has discovered an invention of his father's, the Q-Pod, that allows him to travel in time, but his father has disappeared. Dave and Shel search for him through the centuries.

There's no attempt to explain how the Q-Pod works, but it does, and all the expected paradox elements also apply. McDevitt has fun explaining and playing with them. Dave and Shel can't resist mingling with the people from the past, but nothing serious comes of it because they're careful. Well, most of the time. They run into trouble in Selma, Alabama, and they tangle with a Borgia. There are other bumps in the road.

Mostly the search for Shel's father is an excuse for a "and then we visited" kind of novel. (I was pleased that Shel and Dave attended a Kingston Trio Concert; I'm assuming they saw the original group.) Some might find the plot a bit rambling, but eventually Dave and Shel get around to the "crime" that began the novel and its ingenious resolution. A couple of other bloggers have commented, and you can find James Reasoner's comments here. Randy Johnson weighs in here. And George Kelley's review is here. George is the one who first recommended McDevitt to me some years ago, and I've enjoyed several of McDevitt's books since then.

1 comment:

George said...

Glad you enjoyed TIME TRAVELERS NEVER DIE. I love that T. L. Sherred story, too! A classic!