I’ve always had a soft spot for time travel stories-from Groundhog Day to Back To The Future to The Time Traveler’s Wife-I love them all. So when I saw Time Travelers Never Die it sounded like my kind of book.
For the most part Jack McDevitt does a good job with his time travel story, but it has a little too much Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to it for my taste. There are endless bits when our heroes have to hop about in time so that they can hide something, retrive something, or just skip waiting in line. A little of this stuff goes a long way, and unfortanetly it makes up the bulk of the book.
When Doc Brown sits down in the DeLorean time machine he asks Marty where would you like to go? Watch the signing of the Declaration of Indepence? Witness the birth of Christ? Well, this seems to have been the sole inspiration for Time Travelers Never Die. It’s one long wish list of places to go if you happen to find yourself in possession of a time machine.
Among the annoying oddities is the fact that Jack likes to call Ipods Qpods and Blackberrys Gooseberrys. There may be some law agaist using the trademarked names, but it is a bit too cutesy to use sound alike names. Unless he is trying to tell us this story takes place in some alternate universe and not our own-one that happens to share all of our history-except for the fact that Apple decided to go with Qpod instead of Ipod.
Another problem is that everywhere our heroes go, they are perfectly safe-even when they find themselves amist race riots in the 1960s, in the presence of Cardinal Borgia, and hanging out in the general area of the Battle of Thermopylae. One of them does get a black eye and a couple of cracked ribs, but nothing serious ever happens. They eat the local food, drink the local water, breath the local air, interact with the local people and never so much as come down with a cold or have a bit of indegestion.
Our time traveling heroes have too much to do for us to spend any real time in the countless historical places they visit. At first we get a few discriptions of this or that place, but soon we have nothing more than a list of places to visit and a later list telling us they visited them.
It was a fun book, but it lacked any kind of real drama-if even the possiblity of something bad happening to the hero is removed, there is zero suspense. They live happily ever after, before, and present.