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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2005
Vernor Vinge Fans, I recommend all of his books but please note 'Marooned In Realtime' and 'The Peace War' are printed as one book called 'Across Realtime' don't waste your money buying all three, as Amazon recommends!
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Wil was a detective closing in on an embezzler. His quarry panics and uses a high tech force field to "bobble" Wil, effectively ending his investigation. A bobble is an impenetrable, spherical force field that can be set to last for a specific period of time. Inside the bobble, time stops. Outside it marches on. Wil emerges from his involuntary confinement far in the future, where a small group of the also-bobbled try to work out what happened to everyone else on the Earth. Was it an alien invasion, careless self-destruction, transcendence to a new plane of existence...? It is a mystery.

Wil has two smaller mysteries to solve as well. The embezzler who trapped Wil, tearing him away from his family, was caught and put into a nearby bobble timed to emerge shortly after Wil. This was considered a just punishment for involuntary bobbling. But Wil's enemy has been given a new face and name by the leader of the survivors. Wil is expected to abandon any plans for revenge because every surviving human being is needed to make their colony viable. Wil is reluctant to end his search.

The second mystery is also tied to bobbling. Marta, one of the colony's leaders, is deliberately trapped outside of the colony's next bobble-jump to the future. She spends 40 years as the only living person in the wilderness of Earth, before dying of old age. Marta's companion is grief-stricken and furious. Wil is tasked to identify the murderer, using Marta's diary and other decades-old clues. Everyone seems to be a suspect.

Complicated? Yes. But well-written and easier to follow than this brief summary. The interactions between members of the colony who originated in different eras are carefully thought out and produce interesting cultural conflicts. While this story stands alone, it is a sequel to The Peace War and includes a few characters from that book. The author's short story "The Ungoverned" also fits into this sequence. It can be found in The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge. All three related stories are collected in Across Realtime.
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