by Roger MacBride Allen


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Roger MacBride Allen. Bantam Spectra, $13.95 paper (464p) ISBN 0-553-37811-2

In an era when time travel is essential to interstellar transport, keeping the past from learning the future is the Chronologic Patrol's prime directive. Anton Koffield, captain of the Upholder, one of two Patrol ships protecting the Circum Central timeshaft wormhole, becomes the first person ever to act to preserve causality. Incomprehensible Intruders destroy Koffield's sister ship and cripple his own as they battle through the time shaft the wrong way, from "downtime" (the past) to "uptime." As a fleet of cargo ships heading toward a failing terraformed planet approaches Circum Central for safe passage, the Intruders return, and Koffield collapses the timeshaft to prevent them from returning to the past. The cargo ships are destroyed, the planet never receives its relief supplies and Koffield is stranded in the future with his crew, who have fingered him as the murderer of a world. Forced into isolation by the Patrol, which simultaneously hails him as a hero, Koffield stumbles upon proof that all of humanity's terraformed worlds are doomed to catastrophe, and he must overcome his villainous status, pervasive guilt and a second time-stranding to convince others, even as he uncovers mysteries yet more profound, and a megalomaniac's master plan. With its well-rendered hero and supporting cast, Allen's (The Game of Worlds) latest resists slipping into melodrama. The thoroughly practical use of time travel coupled with visceral evocations of the logical complications of becoming lost in one's own future ground the novel scientifically and emotionally. Slyly, Allen wraps up his story with a maddeningly provocative ending that all but ensures a sequel and another meeting with the intriguing Koffield. (Mar.)


Allen, Roger MacBride. The Depths of Time. Mar. 2000. 464p. Bantam/Spectra, paper, $13 (0-553-37811-2).

Allen meets his usual high standard in this far-future combination of speculative hard science, social sf and pure adventure. It employs the standard of device of wormholes, but instead of permitting interstellar travel, these wormholes allow time travel. When Captain Koffield of the Chronologic Patrol ship Upholder discovers an outbreak of piracy and would-be wormhole hijackers, he seems to have no choice but to destroy the wormhole to the planet Solace. This isolates the planet; maroons Koffield 80 years in the future; brings him in conflict with terraforming scientists and the population of Solace, winch he may have doomed in trying to save it; and generally puts the tale's whole cast up to their stern sheets in alligators. Allen handles this sort of thing as well as anyone in the business, producing a highly readable balance of characterization, graceful and sometimes witty prose, and thoroughly, intelligently developed ideas that don't slow the pacing. -- Roland Green


Allen, Roger MacBride. The Depths of Time. Spectra: Bantam. Mar. 2000.

 c.420p. ISBN 0-553-37811-2. pap. $13.95. SF.

To preserve the integrity of the time line, Capt. Anton Koffield of the Chronologic Patrol destroys a timeshaft in space, thus severing an entire planet from the rest of the galaxy. Reviled for his actions, he accepts an offer from an enigmatic scientist to redeem himself by saving another world and finds himself stranded in a future he no longer knows. Allen combines the convoluted physics of time travel with a tense tale of intrigue set in a far future of terraformed -- and doomed --worlds. Suitable for most sf collections.



Allen, Roger MacBride THE DEPTHS OF TIME

 Spectra/Bantam (464 pp.)$13.95 paperback original ISBN: 0-553-37811-2

Hypercomplex time-travel puzzler from the author of The Shattered Sphere (1994), etc. Time travel via wormhole is the only practical method of traveling between stars, so the Chronologic Patrol's task is to prevent information from the future reaching the past and thus changing history. Patrol Captain Anton Koffield's ship maintains its vigil at the Circum Central wormhole when a squadron of unidentified robot ships attacks it Bewilderingly, the ships have codes to open the wormhole-and faster-than-light capacity! Though heavily damaged, Koffield's ship later prevents these Intruders from returning into the past by closing down the wormhole--but this leaves his ship marooned 79 years in the future. Eventually, Koffield reaches Earth, but the mystery of the Intruders is never solved. A century later, Koffeld learns that the famously egotistical terraformer Oskar DeSilvo has not only plagiarized the work of a long-dead scientist but has failed to grasp that all terraformed ecologies are doomed to fail. Koffield, then, travels via wormhole 127 years into the future to try to warn the terraformed planet Solace of its impending ecological collapse. But his ship's been sabotaged, and he arrives in the wrong time; worse, his evidence has been scuppered. So Koffield must find what links Solace, the sabotage, the Intruders, and Oskar DeSilvo. Sequels are pending. Overlong and overcomplicated, with an annoyingly choppy narrative; still, mind-boggling ideas spice up an absorbing puzzle.

Read Chapter One of  THE DEPTHS OF TIME

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