Time travel heals old wounds ... or does it?


Time travel heals old wounds ... or does it?

Three new books explore travelling through time

Tymon Smith

In his 1895 short story The Time Machine HG Wells got it into our heads that it might be possible to build a machine and travel back in time. Since then the idea that we could go back and change things so as to make our present or future better has been a staple of popular culture. When days are dark and seemingly impossible to foresee getting any better, what other means of rectifying them than to slip back to a better time and make sure that Donald Trump doesn't come down that escalator to announce his presidential candidacy?
In SA, in the Zuma and Fallist age we’ve had Lauren Beukes’s time-travelling US serial killer in 2013’s The Shining Girls and more recently Imraan Coovadia’s time-jumping secret agent in A Spy in Time, published last month. Sometimes the world we live in is best rectified by fulfilling the currently physically impossible but always imaginatively fertile escapist possibilities offered by the time travel canvas.
The Trump era and the depression of Brexit are inspiring US and UK authors to look to time travel as a means of escaping the mind-numbing inanities of the real world in three new books:An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim (Simon and Schuster)
Lim’s novel is a time-jumping romance about “two people who are at once mere weeks and many years apart”. The US is in the grip of a lethal flu epidemic, and when her boyfriend Frank catches the virus Polly promises that she’ll sign up for a one-way trip to the future. In exchange the company that she works for promises to pay for Frank’s treatment. She, in turn, promises to meet her beloved in Galveston, Texas, 12 years in the future. But when things go awry and she’s diverted five years further into the future, Polly finds herself alone in a divided US with no status, no money and no Frank.The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas, (Head of Zeus)
This one begins in 1967 when four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They’re set for world domination but then one of them has a breakdown and everything is about to go pear-shaped. Jump ahead to 2017 and one of the woman’s grandchildren begins to realise that her Granny Bee might have been involved in the creation of time travel, which in 2017 is big business. Then she and her gran discover a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the death of an elderly lady. Cut to 2018 and we’re with Odette, discoverer of a dead body, haunted by dreams of an old lady and frustrated by an inquest into the murder and cover-up that goes all the way to the top ...The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, (Raven Books)
 Described as “Gosford Park meets Inception by way of Agatha Christie and Black Mirror”, this much-hyped novel seems to be a sci-fi Groundhog Day (without the laughs) in which the eponymous heroine finds herself eternally trapped at a dinner party where someone is murdered. Until she figures out whodunit, Evelyn is cursed to relive the party over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

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