Ron Arden's Reviews > The Map of Time

The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma
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's review
Sep 22, 2011

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Read from September 22 to 25, 2011

This book was interesting, but a mixed bag. The book is divided into 3 parts that are all connected and come to a conclusion by the end of the 3rd part. The premise is based on real and imagined time travel and some of the consequences of those activities. Some of the story was exhilarating and some of it was downright boring. There were times where it felt as if the writer was adding a lot of flowery description just to fill up the page.

The beginning of the story concerns Andrew Harrington, a wealthy young man, who falls in love with a street lady in 1888 London. She becomes one of Jack the Ripper's victims and Andrew pines for 8 years that he was too late to save her. In 1896, Gilliam Murray opens his new attraction that lets people travel to a specific date in the year 2000. This was soon after HG Wells published The Time Machine and so time travel is all the rage. Andrew and his cousin Charles ask Murray to let them travel to 1888 to prevent Jack the Ripper from killing his victims. This isn't possible, but might be with a machine that HG Wells has.

From here, there are a lot of twists and turns involving frauds, hoaxes and a lot of drama. Tom Blunt, a man playing a hero in the future events during 2000, winds up falling in love with a woman from 1896. This causes all kinds of hand wringing and more than a little bit of confusion. HG Wells again becomes intertwined in this affair and helps perpetuate a greater fraud, but also saves a life. Suffice to say there are parts of the story that remind me of the movie "The Sting". I, the reader, was fooled a number of times by events in the story, but unlike "The Sting", which I enjoyed, in this case I was annoyed.

The 3rd part of the book brings a little more understanding and a lot more confusion to the story. Real time travel and perceived time travel come together in ways that become confusing. HG Wells is put into an interesting predicament when he receives a letter from his future self telling him the events about to occur and what path he takes from there. He has a choice, let those events unfold or prevent them and continue on with the life that he should have (as our real history shows). He makes his choice and this ties a few of the story lines together.

The ending was satisfactory, but a number of the time lines and parallel universes were not consistent. Events that were first stated as chronological, appeared not to be. I was confused at times as certain events seemed to overlap and contradict each other. Maybe this was the author's entire point, but it made from confusing reading at times. The story is looking at time not as a linear thing, but as one that is either circular or omnipresent. If one believes that all possible choices occur and that those choices result in parallel time lines, then everything that could happen will happen. It's unclear which time line you or I are in, since all are possible.

This gets into the realm of philosophy as well as physics, but for this story, the lines kept crossing to the point of confusion. I like being challenged when I read, but if I get lost in the story and can't determine, "Who's on First", that's a problem.

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