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The Map of Time Mass Market Paperback – 26 Jun 2012
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"Palma makes his U.S. debut with the brilliant first in a trilogy, an intriguing thriller that explores the ramifications of time travel in three intersecting narratives." -- starred "Publishers Weekly" review
"Strange and wonderful. Magical and smart. Felix J. Palma has done more than written a wonderful novel, he's concocted a supernatural tour de force. Time travel, tragic love, murder and mystery all combine in what is nothing short of a surprising, satisfying and mesmerizing read." - M.J. Rose, International Bestseller
""The Map of Time" recalls the science fiction of Wells and Verne, and then turns the early masters on their heads. A brilliant and breathtaking trip through metafictional time." --Scott Westerfeld, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Leviathan"
"Lyrical storytelling and a rich attention to detail make this prize-winning novel an enthralling read." --starred "Library Journal" Review
"Readers who embark on the journey...will be richly rewarded. --starred "Booklist" review
"Palma uses the basic ingredients of steampunk -- fantasy, mystery, ripping adventure and Victorian-era high-tech -- to marvelous effect. " --"Seattle Times"
"'Intellectual thriller' is not an oxymoron in this case. Eccentric, informed. Time travel, H.G. Wells, Jack the Ripper, robots, romance, changing history, destroying classic literature. Spot on narration. Good clean fun." --"Tulsa World"
""The Map of Time "is a singularly inventive, luscious story with a core of pure, unsettling weirdness. With unnerving grace and disturbing fantasy, it effortlessly straddles that impossible line between being decidedly familiar, and yet absolutely new." --Cherie Priest, author of "Boneshaker"
"Palma is a master of ingenious plotting." --"Kirkus Reviews"
"A big, genre-bending delight." --"The Washington Post"
About the Author
Felix J. Palma has earned more than a hundred awards for his short stories. The Map of Time is his first book to be published in the United States.
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So, imagine my disappointment when I realized that the plot turn in part I is based on a lie, a flimsy whimsy of a side character, Charles Winslow, who was painted as a lazy, superficial dandy, but who miraculously transformed into a caring do-gooder.
The time travel depicted in two-thirds of the book is a hoax, run by a criminal, a murderer to boot. So much for duping not only the first protagonist, Andrew - whom I had started to like for his romanticism and broadmindedness, despite his enormous shallowness, pessimism, lack of ambition and laziness - but also duping the reader. The author, Mr. Palma, took liberties with his world-building to create a hollow, flat version of time travel. Yes, science fiction/ fantasy writers often imagine the unimaginable. That's why the hordes like me voraciously read them. But The Map of Time in seemingly writing off time travel in 2/3rds of the book, comes across as a spoof of a science fiction book. That is, in my humble opinion, a travesty in a book that evokes H. G. Wells, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Jules Verne - and their imagined worlds. I wasn't even sure if the time travel in part 3 of The Map of Time was a spoof or actual.
The good things: history of London, the sights and smells of 1900's England evoked, classic English writers whose books I wish to peruse, philosophy of time - though much of the concept of parallel universes is so traveled (forgive the pun) to read like a repetitious rehash of others' ideas. But this criticism rightly belongs to the next paragraph.
The not so good things: the idea of romance as being almost non-existent, men finding "love" in the arms of prostitutes or in a method simulating emotional rape but real love never surviving, time travel premises heavily borrowed or aped from e.g. The Time Traveller's Wife, no engaging characters - not even H. G. Wells, no original premise for time travel. The bitter taste is from the feeling that Mr. Palma has had a laugh at my, and every reader's expense by creating a nonsense of time travel before alerting us to the illusion.
I am sure Felix Palma is an excellent and imaginative writer. However, the style of The Map of Time was not entirely to my liking. That I read it to the end was due to his story-telling as well as due to a hope that by the denouement, my intelligence as a reader wasn't being trifled with or mocked. On the latter front, I was to be disappointed. Hence the 3 stars.
The novel takes place in 1888, in London, with the first section taking place primarily in the Whitechaple district. After deciding to commit suicide Andrew Harrington is given the opportunity to utilize Murray's Time Travel to go back eight years to change one specific thing which has haunted him and made him wish to end his time on this earth. Ultimately he has to seek the help of writer H. G. Wells to try to accomplish his goal.
The second portion of the novel focuses on a young woman of that time who is extremely dissatisfied with her life because of the many restrictions put on her simply because she is a woman. Her dream is to utilize Murray's Time Travel to go forward in time where she will be able to use any talents and intellect she has to make a better world. Once again love plays the predominant part in this story and it is once again up to H. G. Wells to reconcile the past with the future.
The third section puts the emphasis on Wells himself and how the time travel phenomenon has an impact on his past, present and future.
This novel is written in the style where the narrator can't keep himself from commenting to the reader on what is going on in the story. I actually don't mind that usually, but I certainly don't think I've ever read a novel before when it was utilized so often. This narrator was often found popping up to tell me that he could see everything and be everywhere at once so he would fill me in on what had just happened, either on or off the page. It really lost it's appeal quite quickly and became an irritant to me. All three of these novella type segments are intertwined, basically with the presence of H. G. Wells, but also with Murray's Time Travel and with other characters who appear throughout. This had a tendency to lead to a high degree of repetition. I don't like that much repetition in a novel. It makes me feel as if the author doesn't trust that I am intelligent enough to grasp what they are saying the first time which irritates me. A circle! And, by the way, this novel is also a circle. Did it matter where it began? Not for me. My personal favorite section was the middle because that seemed to be much more along the lines of a fully completed story.
Ultimately I decided to assign the novel a three star rating because I did enjoy the second section and it is really quite an inventive book. I just wish I could erase the mental picture in my mind of the author possibly sitting out on a sun drenched patio, drinking a glass of wine, and smiling at how gullible readers can be. Have we been gulled? I certainly felt at times that I was. To my mind, if any kudo's are deserved for this novel they should go to Nick Caistor who translated it. Whew! What a task this must have been.
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