Some more astute readers have noticed I haven’t posted too many book reviews as of late. There are many reasons for this, but what it boils down to is something has to really capture me for me to review it. That’s not to say they haven’t been good – in at least one case, I have found the book is best taken in small doses and so it remains half-read, with a story every couple of weeks – as most of them are. But in at least 2 cases there were only 5 stories I felt like actually mentioning, and past experience has shown me that leaving out so many other authors gets me hate mail.
I can live without the hate mail.
Every story was well written and probably worthy of mention, and out of 21 only 2 didn’t actually resonate with me (despite being written well). That’s an impressively high strike-rate. My own story was one of the middle ones – not one of the best, certainly, but sort of in the middle somewhere.
First the editing – I think I found 2 formatting errors and no other errors in the entire book. that is absolutely stunning for a book nowadays. Only Stacey Turner at Angelic Knight has a similar strike rate. the editing of Martin Ingham is first rate, and if anyone is lucky enough to get into one of his anthologies, be assured your work will be polished to the nth degree.
So I’ve decided to pick my 7 favourite stories (a third of the book), and let the other authors know that theirs were, indeed, fine tales as well. I could easily have gone 10 (half the book) but 7 is probably a good enough number to let you know that this book is well worth your money and your time.
These are in the order of author surname:
‘There’s An App For That’ by Chris Allinotte is an odd little adventure story, told through a different narrative device with an open-ended ending that really leaves the story in a more chilling place than any other in this collection.
‘Paradox Lost’ by Diane Arrelle is another grandfather paradox tale that is taken to a bizarre extreme. The tension built up within the story is really well done, and even if I have a problem with the delay at the end, the rest of the story is just good enough to let that slide.
‘Harry And Harry’ by Arthur M. Doweyko takes the old grandfather paradox and turns it around in a fascinating manner that I really didn’t see coming at all. That last line makes the whole story suddenly seem warped and it made me go back and read it again. Meeting yourself in the past was never quite like this. It is a well constructed story as well, not confusing the reader with pseudo-scientific babble. But that twist at the end makes it.
‘Extinction’ by Steven Gepp is my contribution and, as I’ve said before, self-promotion is the best friend of the author. Your basic dinosaur-hunting time travel story, but with what I like to think of as a neat twist.
‘I’ll Come Back For You’ by A.C. Hall is a story of what happens when going back in time is not the best option. I can’t say too much about it without giving away crucial details, but the final scene in the water, again, makes the rest of the story seem suddenly different. Another well-constructed narrative.
‘Brigadooned!’ by James Hartley is a stand-out because of the manner in which time travel occurs, and the mechanics of moving about. The worlds realised here are wonderful, and make sense on quite a few levels, doing what science fiction has always done – make the reader think. I did see the ending coming, though, but that’s okay. It was well-written enough for that to be forgiven.
‘A Thursday Night At Doctor What’s Time And Relative Dimension Space Bar And Grill’ by Bruno Lombardi opens the book in fine fashion. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is dialogue heavy, but you don’t care before the end of the first page because it is that engaging. The discussions of the repercussions of people trying to do things, and the subtle asides by characters from other time travel adventures is just superb. This makes The Temporal Element one of those books which starts, quite clearly, with its strongest story.
So there you have it. One of the strongest anthologies I have come across in quite a while. The Temporal Element – get it now.