The Depths of Time

Roger MacBride Allen, Author
Roger MacBride Allen, Author Spectra Books $13.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-553-37811-5
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 496 pages - 978-0-553-57497-5
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In an era when time travel is essential to interstellar transport, keeping the past from learning the future is the Chronologic Patrol's prime directive. Anton Koffield, captain of the Upholder, one of two Patrol ships protecting the Circum Central timeshaft wormhole, becomes the first person ever to act to preserve causality. Incomprehensible Intruders destroy Koffield's sister ship and cripple his own as they battle through the time shaft the wrong way, from ""downtime"" (the past) to ""uptime."" As a fleet of cargo ships heading toward a failing terraformed planet approaches Circum Central for safe passage, the Intruders return, and Koffield collapses the timeshaft to prevent them from returning to the past. The cargo ships are destroyed, the planet never receives its relief supplies and Koffield is stranded in the future with his crew, who have fingered him as the murderer of a world. Forced into isolation by the Patrol, which simultaneously hails him as a hero, Koffield stumbles upon proof that all of humanity's terraformed worlds are doomed to catastrophe. He must overcome his villainous status, pervasive guilt and a second time-stranding to convince others of the danger, even as he uncovers mysteries yet more profound, and a megalomaniac's master plan. With its well-rendered hero and supporting cast, Allen's (The Game of Worlds) latest resists slipping into melodrama. The thoroughly practical use of time travel coupled with visceral evocations of the logical complications of becoming lost in one's own future ground the novel scientifically and emotionally. Slyly, Allen wraps up his story with a maddeningly provocative ending that all but ensures a sequel and another meeting with the intriguing Koffield. (Mar.)
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