cover image Dirty Water

Dirty Water

Tom Kratman. Baen, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-982193-00-3

Military SF writer Kratman (the Desert Called Peace series) turns to time travel in this reactionary, nostalgia-laced outing. After stumbling on an unexpected time portal, Sean “Old Man” Eisen gives his grandchildren a tour of the Boston of his youth, taking them back to Christmastime, 1965. Also unexpected are Sean’s reversion to his 20s, and the alien predator that feeds off “the pain, fear, and especially the psychological torment of others” that’s using Boston as its hunting ground. Eisen, always prepared for trouble, is heavily armed, both with firearms and military training. Attracting allies, human and alien alike, he and his unbelievably precocious grandchildren take the fight to the extraterrestrial threat. Kratman, leaving the technicalities of time travel aside, instead lavishes much attention on the details of the setting and on his characters’ combat prowess. A deeply conservative ideology runs throughout, often given voice through Sean’s observations about the differences between past and present: “The Democratic Party of my time,” he tells a 1960s Democrat, “is a wholly owned subsidiary of a new class of amazingly rich, denationalized and globalist plutocrats.” He follows this up with digs at LGBTQ rights and the sexual revolution (arguing it actually “reduced women’s choices”), and Kratman does nothing to differentiate the views of his character from the philosophy of the book itself. While the author’s flair for fight scenes is undeniable, there’s little else to recommend this. (Nov.)