Time And Time Again

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Books -

Remaking his­tory

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

384 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Ben El­ton Pub­lisher: Ban­tam Press

As co- writer of TV

clas­sic Black­ad­der Goes Forth, comic- turned- au­thor Ben El­ton would seem like a nat­u­ral fit for a story based around the events that set off World War One. Throw time travel and chang­ing his­tory into the mix, how­ever, and things don’t seem quite as cer­tain, with El­ton’s lat­est novel prov­ing to be an odd and hap­haz­ard tale that mixes in­ter­est­ing ideas with some deeply clunky ex­e­cu­tion.

The story fol­lows Hugh Stan­ton, an ex- sol­dier turned “pro­fes­sional ad­ven­turer” in 2024 who’s re­cently lost his fam­ily, and is en­listed by a gang of Cam­bridge in­tel­lec­tu­als for a dar­ing mis­sion. They’ve dis­cov­ered a way for some­one to travel back over a hun­dred years, to 1914 – and their plan is for Hugh to foil the events that set off the Great War, thus hope­fully re­boot­ing the 20th cen­tury along much more peace­ful lines.

Nat­u­rally, things don’t go ac­cord­ing to plan, although with El­ton aim­ing this novel firmly at main­stream read­ers, the em­pha­sis is largely on gen­eral his­tor­i­cal sus­pense and in­trigue, with only a small dash of gen­uine sci- fi in the mix. There are evoca­tive de­tails and some de­cent set­pieces in here, but El­ton’s clumsy writ­ing style favours pur­ple prose and broad car­i­ca­tures. De­spite a late burst of full- on SF con­cepts, Time And Time Again is stuck with a tone of pompous lec­tur­ing that ends up more an­noy­ing than en­gross­ing. Saxon Bul­lock Both El­ton’s grand­fa­thers fought in WW1 – but on op­po­site sides. His pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther was awarded the Iron Cross.

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