A WINDOW INTO TIME
released OUT NOW! 106 pages | ebook Author Peter F Hamilton Publisher Pan Macmillan If there’s an equivalent to
the locked-room mystery within SF, it’s surely the time-paradox story. Readers so clearly understand what’s going on – the risks of killing your own father in the past and so on – that only a new and novel take on the subgenre is going to hold the attention, which is where the challenge lies.
Enter Peter F Hamilton, whose time-paradox, crimethriller novella shows us the world from the perspective of a teenager, Julian, who has an eidetic memory. That’s unusual enough in itself, but when Julian begins to recall a London finance worker’s life in perfect detail too, things start getting really weird.
The story is set in contemporary London and much of it riffs off Julian’s problems navigating the world. It’s one thing to remember what you see, it’s quite another to understand it – and in a sense this is a kind of fantastical take on The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.
Whether Hamilton has Mark Haddon’s ability to make the mundane seem magical is open to question, but his solution to the potential temporal inconsistencies of time travel is tidy, if a tad tricksy. Slight but quietly satisfying. 1881 story “The Clock That Went Backward” is reputed to be the first temporal paradox used in fiction.