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Time Twisters by Jean Rabe
Review by Ernest Lilley
DAW Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0756404053
Date: 02 January, 2007 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Jean Rabe (and Martin Goldberg) have put together a collection of stories about other times, including both time travel and alternative history in the mix. The collection has a few names that readers will recognize immediately as movers and shakers in the field, especially Harry Turtledove, some that you might not associate with parallel realities, like Kevin Anderson, and a number that may not ring any bells at all. But they should, because this is a consistently high quality collection.

Leading the charge into the past is Christopher Pierson's "Pruning the Tree", which nearly had me groaning "not again" as he rolls out what looks to be yet another telling of JFK's assassination...but turns sideways into a much more interesting story of its own.

Then comes Turtledove's "Occupation Duty" in which Philistines and Moabites continue in a thousand year war all too familiar to anyone who's been feet on the ground in Iraq. It's easy to see that this is a story written by a master of the genre, and sadly easy to see that there are no easy answers.

Kevin Anderson's "Mundane Lane" echoes a sentiment that I had in my December SFRevu editorial, that science fiction has given us the concepts to deal with the future, and as a result has cushioned us from future shock (SF, The Future Shock Absorber) so naturally I thought it was brilliant. Though it deals with a time stream where SF never got off the ground and as a result we have no clue what to do when aliens invade. If only fandom hadn't died out at the end of the fifties...

Robert Vandeman's "The Power and the Glory" picks up a popular character in SF historicals, Nikolai Tesla, and twists his fate a bit to see what might have happened if... I've got something of an aversion to time travel stories, so I'm not sure what impulse made me pick up Time Twisters from the pile of incoming books on the desk. See, time travel stories went through a period where all they cared about was paradoxes. So, you wound up with a stream of stories where the protagonists went back in time to stop something from happening, only to be the cause. Or, as in the Star Trek (TOS) episode, "City on the Edge of Forever", going back to undo something to put it all back "right" again. Either way, I always felt cheated by the pointlessness of it all.

But then came the mulitverse, and time travel got more interesting. Now you could go back in time, make a change and send things off in a new direction...without losing the original thread. I have to wonder though, if the travelers then returned to the new future...did anyone miss them in the old one?

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