You may remember that I recently signed up with NetGalley, where you can obtain free advance copies of forthcoming and recently released books for review purposes. Today’s review is for The Far Time Incident, written by Neve Maslakovic and published by 47North, an imprint of Amazon. The book is the first in a series of time-travel adventures. Amazon lists this book in Romance>Time Travel and in Science Fiction>Adventure.
When a professor’s time-travel lab is the scene of a deadly accident, the academic world and the future of St. Sunniva University get thrown into upheaval. As assistant to the dean of science, Julia Olsen is assigned to help Campus Security Chief Nate Kirkland examine this rare mishap…then make it quietly go away! But when the investigation points toward murder, Julia and Chief Kirkland find themselves caught in a deadly cover-up, one that strands them in ancient Pompeii on the eve of the eruption of the world’s most infamous volcano. With the help of their companions—a Shakespearean scholar and two grad students—Julia and the chief must outwit history itself and expose the school’s saboteur before it’s too late.
In the interest of full disclosure, readers should know I have drafted my own time-travel novel. That doesn’t prevent me from enjoying other works, however. Also, my manuscript has a far different plot from this story.
And that’s one of the great aspects of time-travel stories. They can take a multitude of forms—science fiction, romance, mystery, adventure, or alternate history, just to name a few. I suspect most readers could find one that appeals to them. But not every story will appeal to every reader. So who would enjoy this one?
Despite the author’s PhD in Electrical Engineering, this is not hardcore science fiction. Maslakovic instead emphasizes history and solving the mystery of a professor’s disappearance in time over any technical descriptions of time travel. The academic world—especially the relations between administrators, faculty, graduate students, and support staff—also features in the story. Most of the descriptive passages in the book focus on the details of life in ancient Pompeii and in the Time Travel Engineering Department at St. Sunniva University in Minnesota.
If you like your science fiction focused on science and technology, this may not be the book for you. Little time is spent on the details of the physics and engineering behind the story’s equipment. And if you prefer fewer descriptive details and more emphasis on action, you might find the book’s pace too slow.
Personally, when I read a time-travel story, I want to experience the feel of the other time(s) being visited. If action takes place in the past, give me the sights, sounds, and smell of the place. If it’s in the future, make it clear how similar or different the world is from my time. In this book, I enjoyed my trip to Pompeii.
Solving a mystery is an integral part of this story. If you want your characters challenged and threatened at every turn of the page in a mystery, you might be disappointed. I never felt the characters were in real danger other than the possibility of being caught in the Vesuvius eruption of A.D. 79. But if a book isn’t meant to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller, then I don’t mind the characters taking time to check out their surroundings for curiosity’s sake. And these characters are academics. Having gone through graduate school myself, I know firsthand how disconnected some in “the ivory tower” can be from “real” life. But this behavior in a novel might throw someone unfamiliar with the academic world.
The book also has a light, humorous touch, and that also kept me from expecting terrible things to happen. Again, if you’re after “hard” science fiction or mysteries, this won’t fit the bill. I’ve read some reviews that say the book is geared to younger readers, but I didn’t find this stated on Amazon or the author’s web page. Adults who like light-hearted adventures can certainly enjoy the book. Possibly the reviewers who suggested the book is for younger readers prefer a harder edge to their fiction.
Finally, the romance categorization might turn some readers away. However, while we see the potential for a romance in the making, that story line is never really developed in this book. This is the first in a series, and the relationship in question may move closer to center stage in subsequent releases.
So if you’re looking for some light summer fare and enjoy time travel stories with a fun focus on history rather than science and technology, then you may want to take a look at The Far Time Incident.
The Far Time Incident is now available in both paper and electronic formats.