Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel
This is an anthology of short stories on the theme of time travel and written by some indie authors, some of whom are well known to me, and some of whom are not.
I suspect if you like Hugh Howey’s Wool series, you’ll like this, because I recognise several of these authors as ones who have written in the Wool universe (via the Kindle Worlds publish your fan-fic program). Despite my feelings about Amazon opening that can of P2P worms, there is definitely some good writing going on both there, and in this anthology.
This one is often free so as a sampler of indie sci-fi authors, it definitely works for that purpose.
I rated each story individually, which gave an average overall of a little over 3. But there are always a few stories in every anthology that every reader feels could have been left out, and for me those were offset by two stories I felt were quite spectacular.
Below the jump, individual synopses and ratings (mostly so I can remember which authors to check out more of!)
The Santa Anna Gold (Michael Bunker)
A father tries to help his son—the only family member he has left—pursue his interest in finding the legendary Santa Anna Gold. The only problem is: the boy wants to go back in time in order to locate it. Sometimes the things a father will do for an only child are limitless.
5* Michael Bunker interests me greatly (he writes Amish sci-fi!), but this is the first thing of his I’ve actually read. And it’s brilliant, and the only tale in this book that stung me with the twist in it’s tail that I definitely didn’t see coming.
Corrections (Susan Kaye Quinn)
Time traveling through murderers’ minds to prevent the crimes that landed them on Death Row? This is what psychologist Ian Webb lives for. But his training with the Department of Corrections, along with fifteen successfully resolved cases, is of little help when the original timeline proves to be nothing like the court records show. The past can only be changed so much, and pushing it too far won’t just fail to prevent a murder—it might erase his patient from the timeline altogether.
3* Competently told. I think this might actually make a good novel, or even a series, it’s a really interesting idea.
Hereafter (Samuel Peralta)
Cpl. Caitlyn McAdams returns home from war, back to her family and the life she knew—but she doesn’t return whole. How can she forget the man she left behind—a man she’d met only once before—a casualty of a roadside bomb, dying in front of her? And then, one day, he comes back.
4* This reminds me of the time dilation stories (of which there’s one at the end of this book). Apparently I like that genre, because this one definitely hooked me in.
Reentry Window (Eric Tozzi)
Space exploration is dead and buried. But a strange atmospheric anomaly on Mars single-handedly resurrects the program, giving birth to the first manned mission to the Red Planet. For astronaut Brett Lockwood it’s a dream come true. A chance to make history. But what he discovers is a window through time that will change the entire course of space exploration—decades before he was ever born.
The Swimming Pool of the Universe (Nick Cole)
War, remembrance and a grenade play havoc with the time machine we all carry inside ourselves as Private Dexter Keith battles alien spiders on the surface of a spinning asteroid beyond the edge of the solar system.
3* Less about time travel, and more about how we cope with surviving terrible things, and the banality of life after. I actually liked this story very well, but I think this could have been a home run if it was half the length, and pared down to the soul.
The River (Jennifer Ellis)
Destroyed by guilt and sorrow over a childhood mistake, Sarah Williams lives alone and buries her grief in long-distance running and triathlons. But when Sarah’s running partner invents a time travel device, Sarah is determined to change her past, even if it means living twice—and betraying the man she loves.
3* Good story, cleverly told, but let down by dragging on the ending a little too far.
A Word in Pompey’s Ear (Christopher G. Nuttall)
To Julia, a young student of the Roman Empire, the past seems a realm of missed opportunities. But when she is sent back in time to meet Pompey the Great, she discovers that changing history may not be as easy as it seems.
2* Just didn’t work for me.
Rock or Shell (Ann Christy)
Everyone wishes they could change something in their past. Whether it’s taking back that embarrassing comment at an office party, or going back to save a life lost too soon, we all wish for the impossible at least once. But when too many people are given that power—and no ability to control their fleeting thoughts of change—what happens is more than chaos. It could be the end.
2* Another one that just didn’t work for me.
The Mirror (Irving Belateche)
Peter Cooper sells the past for a living. He started out as a poor boy from Indiana and now he’s a successful antique dealer in Manhattan. But he’s about to find out that there’s more to the past than inanimate objects. Sometimes the past refuses to die.
3* Has a sort of a Poe feel to it. Or perhaps an episode of Supernatural.
Reset (MeiLin Miranda)
Sandy’s best friend Catherine changed when she turned sixteen. She withdrew from life, and spent all her time drawing pictures of seven children she said would never exist. Thirty-four years later, Sandy finds out why.
3* Not bad.
The Laurasians (Isaac Hooke)
Horatio Horace, paleontologist extraordinaire, discovers that time travel isn’t all it’s cracked up to be—when he comes face to face with the living and breathing versions of the fossils he has studied his entire life. And they are hungry.
2* I think I’ve seen this movie at least twice, and I’ve definitely read the story before. Except, told better and by other authors.
The First Cut (Edward W. Robertson)
In the future, there are many parallel Earths. Only one of them has time travel. Known as Primetime, its criminals break into the pasts of other worlds, far beyond the reach of conventional police. Blake Din is the newest graduate of the agency tasked with stopping them, but he’s already on the verge of washing out. And now, one of his fellow recruits has just gone rogue.
4* This one hooked me pretty well. Another one that could have been 5* but for a tendency to ramble.
The Dark Age (Jason Gurley)
On the day she was born, he left for the stars. He watches her grow up on screens. Misses her first words, her first steps. She’s never kissed his scratchy cheek, or fallen asleep on his shoulder. He’s never wiped away her tears, or sung her to sleep. Now she’s a toddler, and the crew of the Arecibo is about to enter hibernation sleep for one hundred and fifty years. And when he wakes, his family will be gone.
5* Well this confirms it, I’m a definite Jason Gurley fan. The entirety of the plot is told in the blurb, and like the Isaac Hooke story, I’ve seen this movie, and read the book before. But this one shines in the execution, and left me closing the book with a tear in my eye.