Here we come to one of my favorite anthology themes: time travel. Sixteen authors tackle the ever-fascinating world of temporal cause and effect, in which their assorted protagonists attempt to change their pasts and futures for better and for worse.
Dean Wesley Smith’s “The Ghost of the Garden Lounge,” is an especially strong tale. In it, he revisits a bar whose jukebox occasionally allows people to travel into their own past. In this case, a couple separated by time and tragedy attempt to fix their past repeatedly, their failure growing more profound every time. Also memorable is Daniel Hoyt’s “God’s PDA,” in which a man finds an item capable of rewriting history, or preventing Armageddon. But can he use it responsibly?
Jody Lynn Nye’s “Wait Until Next Year” also looks at Armageddon as a preventable event, but how on Earth does it all relate to the World Series, angels, demons, and a mortal pawn? Loren Coleman looks at a time traveler sent on a specific mission into the past, who falls in love with his current situation, in “Present Perfect.” Brenda Cooper’s “Black Armbands” has a remorseful hero try to change a horrible incident in his own past, but at what cost to history?
Christina York’s “Godspeed” has John Glenn making a choice concerning his own destiny, while in Annie Reed’s “Reboot,” a time traveler discovers a sinister secret about the program where he has worked for many years. In “Jesus H. Christ,” Laura Resnick takes an irreverent look at how an ex-Mafioso convinces the Son of God to follow His destiny.
This is a good, solid collection that really takes full advantage of the titular theme to explore the possibilities. With stories ranging from humorous to tragic, action-packed to thoughtful, there’s plenty for everyone. I might be biased because I’m a sucker for a good time travel tale, but I was quite pleased with this anthology.
Originally posted on SF Site, 2006