March 7th, 2009

book 1

Revise The World by Brenda Clough

Publisher: Book View Cafe, 2008
Genre: Science Fiction
Sub-genre: Alternate history/time travel

Read the full (spoiler-free) review here.

In 1912, British explorer Lawrence "Titus" Oates was part of the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition led by Captain Robert Scott, the goal of which was to be the first country to reach the South Pole. Conditions of the return trip were horrible, and realizing his weakened condition was slowing the party down and lessening their chances of surviving, Titus Oates told the others he was going to step outside for "some time." During an Antarctic blizzard, this was suicide, but highly respected for its self-sacrificing nature. Although rescuers searched, Oates's body was never found.

In 2045, scientists are experimenting with traveling through not only space, but time. Since he died alone and his body was never found, Titus Oates presentes the perfect guinea pig. He's snatched up moments away from dying, patched up with modern medicine, and revived.

Intially published as a novella in Analog Science Magazine in 2001 as "May Be Some Time", the charming fish out of water story has been expanded to a full 600 page novel. Clough has made Titus an appealing hero, and the narration sticking so close to him gives a wonderful alien perspective on our society. Titus's perspective is fresh and engaging, told with a sense of humour the reader will appreciate, even if the story's protagonist doesn't.

Because the narration sticks so close to Titus, the story seems to meander from one place to another without a true arc; this is one of those stories where the telling of the tale is the point, rather than the journey itself. I actually wasn't bothered by the lack of direction, given the perspective, but plot-driven readers my go bug-nuts over this. My issue was actually with the ending. Part Three of the story ended rather abruptly after all the build-up it had been given, and while Titus's fate seemed settled, there were questions left unanswered and now I shall never know and it's driving me up the wall.

That being said, the fact that it is driving me up the wall says something about how engaging Revise The World is.