Time Hunter
The Sideways Door

Authors: R J Carter and Troy Riser
Telos Publishing
RRP: £7.99 (paperback), £25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN-13: 978 1 84583 102 8 (paperback), 978 1 84583 103 5 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN-10: 1 84583 102 0 (paperback), 1 84583 103 9 (deluxe hardback)
Available 17 August 2006

Honoré and Emily find themselves in a parallel timestream in which their alternate selves think nothing of changing history to improve the quality of life - especially their own. Honoré has been recently haunted by the death of his mother, an event that happened during his childhood. Now there seems to be a way to reverse that tragedy... but at what cost? When faced with two of the most dangerous people they have ever encountered, Honoré and Emily must make decisions with far-reaching consequences...

At just 70 pages long, this is the shortest Time Hunter novella to date, but nevertheless it makes gripping reading.

R J Carter and Troy Riser set things up nicely with a few well-realised shifts in space and time. The prologue features an injured World War II officer called Jonah (perhaps because of his bad luck) who suddenly and inexplicably finds himself in a world where the war never happened. Then the first chapter proper propels us back in time, via Honoré's memories, as he recalls his childhood bereavement. After that I was hooked by the perennially irresistible concepts of parallel universes and doppelganger counterparts.

Homage is paid to several of sci-fi's better-known previous explorations of alternate timelines and dimensions. For instance, in the world in which Jonah, Honoré and Emily find themselves, airships are a popular mode of transport, just as they are in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the recent Doctor Who two-parter Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel and countless examples of the steampunk genre. The scientific principle of the Einstein-Rosen bridge that the travellers use was popularised (referred to as the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge) in the TV show Sliders. At one point, the alternate timeline is even referred to as a "mirror universe", a la Star Trek, though the authors stop short of anything so crude or clichéd as the "mirror" Lechasseur lacking a beard. Towards the end of the book, Honoré faces a dilemma similar to that of Captain Kirk at the end of The City on the Edge of Forever.

One crucial difference between the two sets of characters is that the alternate Emily knows all about her past. This is yet another hint that, in the next and final book in the series, George Mann's Child of Time, all will be revealed about the origins of "our" Emily (a hint that is confirmed by the "coming soon" synopsis at the back of the book).

The narrative also contains some beautiful descriptions of paintings and intelligent discussions of the artists who created them.

One slight imperfection is that it is never really explained how Jonah remains immune to the historical changes that the alternate Honoré and Emily bring about, nor how he manages to slip between dimensions. That aside, however, this is an appealing page-turner. Never mind the quantity, enjoy the quality.

Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal! Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£7.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
Deluxe Hardback
£25.00 (Amazon.co.uk)
£7.99 (WHSmith.co.uk)
Deluxe Hardback
£25.00 (WHSmith.co.uk)
£7.99 (Countrybookshop.co.uk)
Deluxe Hardback
£25.00 (Countrybookshop.co.uk)

All prices correct at time of going to press.