Fiction Reviews

Killing Time

(2000) Caleb Carr, Little Brown, £9.99, pbk, 310pp, ISBN 0-316-85471-9


Even now, two weeks after finishing this novel, Iím still asking myself how a book which started so promisingly can have ended so shiΓ! For 301 of its pages I was ready to praise Carr as a new Jules Verne. Certainly the material was there: In 2023 a band of unique scientists get together to perpetrate hoaxes on the internet, to demonstrate the abuses to which the Ďnet can be put by the unscrupulous. They are lucky to have a fabulous machine which can travel under the sea, on land, in the air, and is even capable of stratospheric flight, created by the bandís leader, Malcolm Tressalian. Then one of their hoaxes has a tragic effect, causing the team to re-think their strategy... And then Malcolm invents a time-machine, goes back somewhen and does something, and absolutely everything is alright! I make no apology for giving away the ending, such as it is, because I donít want you to read this book - itís enough that one of us should have to suffer, and thereís no reason why you should have to part with £10 to become as disappointed as me. I donít think Carr is an SF writer, and Iíd like to take this opportunity on our behalf to tell him never to darken our libraries again. Please donít read this book, youíll only encourage him, and thatís the last thing we want.

Tony Chester

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