I’m no expert on the concept of time travel (I gave up physics after GCSE, and I only got a grade C in A-Level Maths.), but I admire anyone who can get their head around it the way Calum Kerr does in this flash-fiction collection.
In Time, we are treated to 31 very short stories all connected by the aforementioned concept. Some stand alone, while some follow on from others. Either way, we get to meet a wide variety of characters, some of whom invent (and un-invent) time travel and some of whom, for all sorts of reasons, simply make use of the facility – although ‘simply’ is probably completely the wrong word!
Even though, these stories are pure science fiction, they are still rooted in human experience; they still brim with those universal human desires and capacities: love, hate, loss, friendship, life, death etc. And while the stalwart plots of time travel fiction – such a killing Hitler – are definitely present, Calum puts his own spin on them so that they read as fresh as if they were completely new ideas.
It’s hard to pick a favourite from this collection, but the story that has stuck most firmly in my mind is Why Do Fools? which is the tale of a man who goes to extremely precise lengths to ensure his past happens the way it needs to to ensure he gets the future he desires. After reading it, I was left thinking about how our lives are so susceptible to the fluttering of butterfly wings.
One of the things I love about all of Calum’s writing is the confidence with which his different narrative voices speak. It doesn’t matter whether the story is being told by a traditional third-person, completely in dialogue or as an excerpt from an auction catalogue, it only takes the length of an opening sentence to make you realise you’re in capable and convincing hands.
So, if you’re a fan of time travel fiction, I’m sure you’ll be a fan of this book, and if you’re not a fan of time travel fiction, after reading this book, you probably will be. Whichever you are though, once you’ve read Time, you might, like me, be left hoping that no one ever, ever, ever invents a time machine …