cover image In War Times

In War Times

Kathleen Ann Goonan, . . Tor, $25.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-765-31355-3

This engaging alternate-universe tale posits a quintessential enigma of civilization: can technology be prevented from doing as much evil as good? Goonan (Light Music ) traces the career of amateur saxophonist Sam Dance, a young soldier who receives plans for a strange electronic device from his physics instructor, Magyar Gypsy Dr. Eliani Hadntz, after she seduces him on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor. She intends her "time machine"—melding physics and biology—to harness the human mind and rescue Europe from Nazi evil. As Sam experiences successive horrors of WWII, the love of jazz he and his friend Wink share enables them to build increasingly perfected models of Hadntz's device. Sam eventually plants the machines across the globe, hoping the technology will somehow cause various time-shifting realities and save humanity from its herdlike propensity for violence. Paralleling the evolution of modern jazz with the creative ferment of science, Goonan delivers a bravura performance. (May)