Tiem Mechine, by Alex Hansen (24:11)

IOD-TiemMechineToday we see that a rough patch can come at you like a bridge abutment out of the fog.

What I gleaned about the story: When a down-on-his-luck tech guy scores a working time machine at a local yard sale, his entire world goes from depressing to chaotic. But it can’t all be lucky stock picks and grandpa-slaying, because in the grand multiverse of possibilities, some yous are real dicks.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note:This is a fascinating approach to the title. Risky, but fascinating. Given the apparent subject, I’d guess—from the odd spelling—that a substantial time-stream rewrite has occurred. But even so, my suspicion is that, since this is coming from an unknown, indie author, this title gambit is doing more harm than good. Especially when combined with the intentionally pathetic cover art. With all the unredeemable crap poisoning the indie market, how is a prospective reader to know that this cover and title are not exactly what they appear to be: a self-published first draft from somebody’s overly precocious nine-yr-old? There is absolutely zero chance that I would have picked this up off a pile to examine more closely. But marketing issues aside, now that it’s been placed in my hands, consider me intrigued as I fire up the hamster wheel.

Note: The left justified, double spaced formatting is driving me nuts. It’s fine for an editorial draft, but not very comfortable for reading at speed.

Note: There are a couple of echoing headwords on sentences early on, but for now anyway, I’m getting the feeling they were intentional, for rhythmic effect, so I’m noting them, but not charging anything against them.

Note: (A little further on.) Hm. I’m not sure yet whether I’m charmed or annoyed. There are a few low-intrusion editorial glitches, but they’re tiny. The writing is a bit clunky in places, but the premise is so damned intriguing that I’m finding myself looking past all that. Still waiting for the shoes to start falling, but pressing on.

WTF #1: Character role confusion

Analysis: I was a bit thrown to discover that Trevor was his room-mate rather than his son. Something earlier about them having had “important conversations” led me to believe we were dealing with a man and his moody teenaged son. So when the “kid” started giving out adult advice, and then offered to pay the bills, I did a head shake trying to figure out what kind of 14-yr old would behave that way.

Note: An awkward parse tripped me up here: “Be honest, how many times a day did you tell people to try restarting their computers or making sure their printers were plugged in?” It wasn’t clear that the verbs were meant as “try restarting” and “try making,” so I parsed it as “try restarting” and then just “making,” which caused a stumble. It’s not enough to smack with a WTF, but I include it as an example of what I meant above by “low-intrusion” editorial issues.

WTF #2: Finally, the finished machine sitting in front of me on the living room carpet, I picked up the owner’s manual.

Analysis: This is about the third time I’ve tripped over these parallel side clauses. I don’t mind them when they’re just 3 or 4 words long, but with a clause this long, it starts to feel wrongly constructed as I wait for the verb. The addition of the word “with” just after the first comma would have made it much easier to parse. It still wouldn’t make me like this kind of sidebar, but at least I wouldn’t have tripped over it.

WTF #3: Galloping I disease.

Analysis: The echoing headwords re-emerged a little while ago, and now I’ve run into a section with five consecutive I-headed sentences containing a total of 10 occurrences of “I.” Granted, there are extenuating circumstances. After all, this is a 1st POV account of a time traveller engaged in a running battle with 3 or 4 copies of himself, so avoiding the self-references is pretty much a lost cause right out of the gate. But that just makes it more important to find a way through the mine-field, because now, unlike most 1st POV stories, it’s actually unclear who “I” and “me” refer to. Anyway, this section came up on me unexpectedly, like a rumble strip on the highway, and I had to slam on the breaks, fearing that I was about to die. And that brings us to three.

Note: The treadmill may have stopped, but I am completely hooked on the story. I’ve always been a sucker for a good time travel yarn, and this one seems to have a fresh coat of paint, so I’ll be going further with it tonight.

Jade Moon, by Julia Richards (10:00)
At the Crossroads, by Andre Gal (9:42)

About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is uniquely unqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.