Author: Nicholas S. Stember
Publish America
RRP $19.95

ISBN 1 59286 868 1
Available now

Time travel... but where are you while travelling from yesterday to tomorrow? What if you could be pulled into the very streams of time itself? A place that was nowhen, as opposed to nowhere? This is something that Air Force pilot Fletcher Taylor has to come to grips with when he's torn from his F15 over the Middle Eastern deserts, and pulled into such a place. Trapped in nowhen, he starts to unravel the mystery that centres around the place hidden within called Twilight, and its elite mission force charged with the dangerous and necessary task of fixing injustices in time. It is here, out of time and space, that he must come to grips with his own inner demons, and his unexplained ties to his place, all while a very real and dangerous menace looms... with the ability to unravel the very fabric of time itself...

First things first. If you had a problem working out how Marty McFly was able to be in the same place and time on more than one occasion during the Back to the Future trilogy, then Twilight is not the novel for you. However, if you like having your mind messed with, then you'll be in your element here.

US Air Force pilot Taylor's world is thrown into turmoil when he is recruited by the good folk at Twilight - a group of humans that exist outside of time as we understand it. Their mission, to jump back and forth in time saving people in a bid to make the World a better place. However, this is strictly controlled by a supercomputer that ensures that the space time continuum is never altered drastically - so there is no mending Hitler's ways before he goes wacko, or trying to persuade Abraham Lincoln that the production of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre is overrated and that he should spend a nice quiet night in instead.

The first three quarters of the book are fairly well paced, following Taylor's training, love interest and eventually appointment as a full time skimmer, but it is the final quarter of the book that caught me off guard. Suddenly, the action was thick and fast and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

There are problems with the book, be they minor ones. For a start when Fletcher skims into a modern day London there is a soupy smog covering most of the familiar landmarks. Nah! Sorry that stopped happening once Jack the Ripper disappeared. And the regional Cockney accent equally draws it's inspiration from Victorian imagery. In fact, apart from Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, I don't think anyone has ever said: "I n-never even saw her, govn'r."

Also, a lot of the events don't stand up to close scrutiny. When Fletcher changes the time line he still remembers events, and people are still in his timestream that shouldn't be. While this is explained as Twilight time protecting them, it seems to be a law that doesn't always ring true. But to be fair, the writer does try to explain the reason for most of these events as they occur.

Another problem is that everyone knows all our lives are intertwined, so by change the events of one person, as small as they may seem, can dramatically change the future. For example, Fletcher stops an old man from being mugged. The old man is mugged by his grandson who, when he realises who he has mugged, commits suicide. Now that he doesn't do this he is free to have children that wouldn't have otherwise be born and one of these could discover a cure for cancer, or create a new form of deadly weapon... you get my point? Okay, I know the computer is monitoring such events and only chooses the ones that won't affect the future, but the smallest change can and will do so.

But ignore those very slight moans and the book is extremely engaging. Nicholas S. Stember's writing style is very visual, without being too focused on over describing every detail. You can almost see - and this is not meant to be an insult - the words "Hollywood blockbuster" written all over it.

For those of us that grew up loving the Back to the Future movies, Twilight represents a story of equal merit to a 30 something age group.

Darren Rea

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