Time Was

Ian McDonald. Tor.com, $3.99 e-book (176p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9145-2
Veteran speculative author McDonald (the Luna series) entrances readers with this multigenerational novella of two time-crossed lovers who can only meet for brief moments separated by several years. An old, anonymous poetry book thrown into the rubbish in modern-day London contains an obliquely written love letter that leads narrator Emmett to search for Tom and Ben, two lovers who met during World War II but were forced by mysterious circumstances to wander alone across time and space. The threads McDonald weaves together are equally compelling. Emmett’s obsessive quest provides a colorful frame for the clues of the lovers’ appearances. The sections following Tom and Ben vividly portray the hopes of youth torn apart by wars and the mystery of their separations. Every locale McDonald includes, be it modern London or WWII-era southeast England, is infused with a deep sense of place. The ending’s predictability is washed away by beautiful writing that mixes Emmett’s excitement with melancholy (“I had touched an echo, basked in the afterglow”). Fans of science fiction who enjoy a dash of history and legend will savor this tender story. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
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