Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Book Reviews


Seeds of Time
Kay Kenyon
©1997

Summary

The Earth is dying and its ability to support life is greatly reduced. In an effort to re-green the dying planet, a program of Biotime Inc. and supported by the government, has used time-traveling space ships to bridge the distances of space. By traveling back in time, the ships arrive when distant parts of the galaxy are passing through the same space our solar system currently occupies. This allows the space ships to overcome distances not transversable without Faster-Than-Light technology. Consequently Biotime is able to explore otherwise distant planets and search for plant life that might be able to withstand the harsh Earth environment and bring renewed life to the planet.

The central player in this drama is Clio Finn, a time dive pilot, whose unique abilities allow her to do what only a handful of people can. Namely, stay awake during the time travel portion of the flight known simply as Dive and pilot the ship. During a mission to explore a promising sector of the galaxy, Clio and her crew discover both a paradise and a hell. The hell they discover is a message from a future earth, which suggests they were unsuccessful in their attempts to save the planet. The paradise comes in the form a planet greener than Eden itself. Unfortunately not all is as it seems. Is this paradise hiding a deadly secret? Can they change the future? Will Clio self-destruct before she can save the planet?

Review

I truly wanted to like this novel, but author Kay Kenyon made it difficult task. Taking a well thought out and somewhat novel approach to time travel, she buries it within a long and meandering plot. A couple of friends that had also read the novel admitted having difficulty finishing the novel.

The novel is divided into what the author refers to as Book I and Book II. A series of transitional events exists between Book I and Book II that the author allows the reader to infer took place. This transition, had Kenyon written it, could have easily filled an entire novel in itself. Perhaps Kenyon should be applauded for the scope of her vision, but I think another author would have been content to construct a tighter plot around less material.

That criticism aside, I found the Seeds of Time a rich feast of characters and concepts that made me stay with it to the conclusion. Set in the not too distant future Kenyon paints a nasty picture of the times ahead. The Earth is portrayed as dying world whose citizens struggle to cope with the drastic environmental changes while refusing to mend their ways. In addition to the environmental woes, the governement in the form of the Department of Social and Drug Enforcement, DSDE, has managed to target primarily homosexuals and drug users as scapegoats. The DSDE has undertaken the crusade to clean up the country by sending the socially undesirables to Quarantine, or simply known as Quarry.

Keyonís heroine, Clio Finn, is a tough cookie with a past, who is struggling to save the planet and herself. While I enjoyed Clioís character, I was often troubled by the amount of effort dedicated to creating minor characters. With a novel that covers such a vast amount of territory, I failed to understand the authorís decision to give so many minor characters seemingly unjustified depth and involvement in the story. I donít usually complain about well rounded characters, but when it begins to interfer with the pacing of the story, and detracts from the main characters, it becomes a problem I canít ignore.

For fans of science fiction and time travel, Kenyon includes an appendix outlining the concepts of time travel as presented in the novel. She uses the appendix to discuss the limitations and dangers inherent in the process of time travel. One concept I found interesting was the Past Intervention Law which in brief states that once you have traveled to the past, everything prior to that insertion point in time become temporally fixed from the standpoint of intervention. In other words, while the traveler could travel to an earlier time, they would not be able to interact or change events in the past. The law also implies there is a spatial constraint to this as well, suggesting that you may be able to interact in an earlier time provided it was not the same events or spatial area.

The novel also presents an interesting take on Alternative Realities or as Kenyon refers to them Cousin Realities. In Kenyonís version these parallel worlds are unable to survive indefinitely, one dominant universe will eventually win out. Without spoiling the plot too much, this concept comes into play significantly towards the end of the novel.

Review Posted: 1999-02-07


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