All of an Instant

Richard Garfinkle, Author Tor Books $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-312-86617-4
Garfinkle's second novel (his debut, Celestial Matters, won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel) launches its talented author into territory utterly unlike his first--into the fourth dimension, the ""ocean of time"" itself. A man named Dhiritirashta is the first to build a suit that allows him to swim in the seas of time, known as the Instant. From there he can swim in the three spatial dimensions, as well as in a fourth spatial dimension corresponding to Earthly time. When changes are made in the past, they flow forward, changing the future, and this flowing substance is the water of time. By manipulating these waters, Dhiritirashta attempts to dominate all of human history, but his changes inadvertently create thousands of histories from which humans can leap into the Instant, all battling to control time. Long into this unending war, a mysterious island of cracked solidity develops in the sea of time, the menace bringing together Nir, born near humanity's beginning; Quillith , a far-sighted woman from the end of human history; and Kookatchi, a slave created with a memory only a minute long. While at first the narrative may appear to be a simple fantasy plot cloaked in space-time physics, it develops a sophisticated consideration of the nature of consciousness, of the continuity of selfhood across a lifetime, and of ethnic conflict. Should one try to make the future the image of one's own past? Should Nir, Kookatchi, and Quillith try to save the chaos of the Instant or destroy it by freezing it into a single history? Garfinkle explores both questions with stunning imagination, thrilling the reader with adventure, philosophy, and topological wonders. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-312-87260-1
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4668-3958-8
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