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Timecaster by Joe Kimball
Review by Steve Sawicki
Ace Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441019182
Date: 31 May 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

In 2064, timecasting involves using a TEV (tachyon emission visualizer) to record events that have already happened. It is a way to look back to the past. As such it is the perfect tool for solving crimes. Talon is one of the select few peace officers who can use a TEV and he has been part of the eventual extinction of violent crime. The future is peaceful, and green. Everyone has to match their carbon footprint by contributing green growth to the world in order to maintain balance.

Using the TEV, timecasting, is considered infallible. So when Talon is asked to investigate the disappearance of the mother of a friend of his wife he is extremely surprised to discover that the woman is dead and he, apparently, is the murderer. Since he knows he did not do it, the race is on to find out who the real killer is and to figure out how timecasting has suddenly gone totally wrong. It's a race to uncover facts in a society that is drastically changed from the one we know.

This is a rousing, action packed SF adventure novel. It's also got a few bugs in it. The first is that this is not new ground. Phil Dick did it a long time ago and he did it better. But, most of you have probably not read Dick and so this will be new.

The other big issue is that the TEV technology is treated as if it exists in a vacuum. Sure it would make a great police tool, but it would also be used by all kinds of other people to do a whole bunch of other things. Just imagine what uses a device that can look into the past could be put to. Unfortunately, in Kimball's future they seem to have not figured any of this out. But let's assume this is the thing that you need to let go of in order to provide that suspension of disbelief. If you can do that the book is actually an interesting read, sort of a mash up of Logan's Run and Time Cop. There are some twists and the ending is one of those non-endings so you're going to have to invest in the sequel if you want to find out what happens. I personally do not like those kind of endings, but, there it is.

Joe Kimball is actually J.A. Konrath who is also Jack Kilborn. Kilborn and Konrath are he names used for thriller/mystery/crime novels while Kimball is apparently the one used for SF. The crime background clearly comes through in this book even if the SF tropes are a bit overused. Still, I have to admit that I was engaged enough to finish the book fairly quickly and was entertained in the process. This is never a bad thing. So, recommended if you are looking for a light, fast read.

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