Saturday, May 04, 2013
The Map of Time
A young man's life is blighted when the woman he loves is murdered by Jack the Ripper. Years pass and still Andrew grieves, unable to bear his loss. His closest friend and cousin Charles has hit upon a way to help Andrew. What if Andrew could travel back in time and stop the Ripper and save his true love's life?
Recently a new attraction has opened in London: Murray's Time Travel. Gilliam Murray claims that he can take people to the year 2000 where they will witness the deciding battle between mankind and the automatons, who have taken over the world and are bent on destroying all mankind. But Murray is unable to help, explaining that his time travel expeditions can only go to the year 2000 and can't travel to the past at all. Murray suggests that Andrew and Charles pay a visit to H. G. Wells, author of The Time Machine.
So Andrew and Charles do visit Wells and he agrees to let them use the time machine, which he keeps in his attic, to allow Andrew to travel eight years into the past and stop the Ripper. What Andrew doesn't know is that Charles had already had a meeting with Wells, who agreed to help Charles hoax his cousin into thinking he traveled into the past, using two actors to play the woman and the killer. Their ploy works, and Andrew comes back from the "past" a changed man, happy to have saved his beloved's life, even though, as explained by Wells, his actions caused a split in the time stream resulting in a parallel universe in which the woman is rescued, while Andrew has to stay in his reality where the woman was murdered. And after that it gets even more complicated, as this novel proceeds on its twisty way, nearing almost the end before the reader is introduced to any actual time travel. Most of the time travel in the book is as bogus as Andrew's rescue of his murdered lover.
The book certainly has a lot to offer if you enjoy reading about Victorian times. As a time travel story, though, it was rather frustrating, as you wade through episode after episode of fake time travel. Murray's expeditions to the year 2000 and Well's time machine expeditions are all fakery. And when we do finally get to meet a real time traveler, he turns out to be a total nutter who kills without compunction just so he can be the only person in the history to own copies of The Time Machine, The Turn of the Screw and Dracula. Complicated, convoluted, frustrating, and way too wordy, The Map of Time was an engrossing read, but in the end, rather a disappointment to me.