Imagine a world run by giant lizards: lizards who wear clothes, drive cars, get married and form governments. Imagine that warm-blooded, scale-less human beings do not even exist. That is the reality which fights for existence when Raslan Saravanan, a human time traveller born in 2951 but living in the 1990s, makes a choice. The wrong choice. His decision rewrites history and allows alternative realities to become possible.
The Reality War is a time travel sci-fi novel with huge imaginative potential. Raslan meets and falls in love with a woman from 1992, and the idea of settling down and having a family with her is temptingly dangled in front of his nose. However, he tries to do his duty and return to his own time, resisting both his dream of domesticity and the unseen forces he suspects are trying to manipulate him. We follow his life and his choices, jumping backwards and forwards between different dates, different characters' perspectives, and different realities as we progress through the book.
The novel's characters are well-drawn and colourful. The "villain" of the story, Amskirk, hates Raslan with a cold venom and it is satisfying (from the reader's point of view) to see him frustrated every time things go his enemy's way. I found Raslan a sympathetic protagonist but a little spineless (intentionally so); the book's female characters are a lot more feisty.
The story is influenced in part by John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress: a Christian allegory written in the 1700s. The main character, Christian, embarks on a spiritual journey upon which, in order to reach the Celestial City (usually interpreted literally as heaven), he must choose the right path to follow, echoing Raslan's dilemma of deciding between duty and desire. The idea of the journey itself, from despair to enlightenment, is also mirrored in both books. According to Taylor's blog he does not intend to write a modern-day equivalent to Bunyan's novel, nor to write a religious story, but instead wishes to entertain his readers, interweaving a number of elements from The Pilgrim's Progress into his book along the way.
The Reality War is self-publishing writer Tim C. Taylor's first novel. The Slough Of Despond (another nod to a crucial element in The Pilgrim's Progress) is the first of two books in this series. There's currently an offer in place for readers of The Slough Of Despond to receive a link to download the second book, The City Of Destruction, for free once it becomes available. After a cliff-hanger ending to the first book (not to mention cliff-hangers at the end of almost every chapter), I'll definitely be downloading The City Of Destruction for the final instalment.