I read this second book in the 'Conduit' series shortly after Nick Marsh's first one, Soul Purpose, having enjoyed that. With Past Tense the author manages to sound less like he's trying to emulate Douglas Adams, as was sometimes the case with his first novel (not necessarily a bad thing though), and more that he's found his own voice. The meeting of day-to-day veterinary life (the writer is himself a vet) and fantasy occupies quite a small niche on a library shelf but works very well here, with some nicely researched Roman history added in this time, as well as what I suspect will be Mr Marsh's trademark geeky asides.
Good characterization meant I rapidly empathised with the 'white hats', to the extent that when a leading character is killed off (no spoilers) I could have railed at the author: "You killed XXX! Noooo!"
A great mix of humour, drama and pathos, with the odd sprinkling of animal husbandry and quantum physics thrown in. Thoroughly recommended, and I'm looking forward to book 3!
Nick Marsh's latest book was well worth the wait. His first novel, Soul Purpose, was an enjoyable read and the follow-up in the conduit series is even better. The book is about Alan, a dissatisfied vet and `the conduit', who ends up in Roman Britain to try and save the world. Again. The sections set in Roman Britain are well-researched and really brings the era to life.
Marsh writes with wit in a style fans of Tom Holt and Douglas Adams will enjoy. Highly recommended!
I love reading Nick Marsh books because not only do you get to laugh but you also learn something about physics, medicine and history as well! What I'm beginning to discover in this particular series is that it's very inconvenient to one's lifestyle to be a conduit (basically a doorway between worlds) as people, spirits and things from other worlds just wouldn't leave you alone and you'd seldom get a minute's peace, invariably having to save the world every couple of months or whenever strange life forms show up, unannounced. The conduit, in this case, called Alan, is just like you and me and hasn't got anything special going on, except maybe a wise-cracking way of looking at the world which is definitely his strong point. He also has good taste in women, like Kate, for instance, even if she doesn't dig him back and who has seriously bad taste in men. Note to author: When are these two ever going to get together? Do I have to read the third in the series to find out? Is there a third in the series? Please say yes.
The title says it all, it felt a long time between the first and second books in this series, but it was worth the wait. It did mean that revising Soul Purpose to recall the characters would have been a good idea in hindsight, but perhaps that's just my memory.
Past Tense is brilliant, I found it totally unputdownable and over the couple of days I took to read it after my wife gave it to me for Christmas she frequently said "Put that b****y book down" when I should have been doing something else!
The plot is fun and well researched and lends itself well to being turned into a film script. I can certainly see some of these characters and the scifi/veterinary hybrid in a Hollywood blockbuster, though maybe the humour wouldn't translate so well.
My only criticism is that the publisher needs to employ better editors, there are so many missing words that I spotted that I'd hope a professional editor would do better. Doesn't spoil the enjoyment at all, just annoying as you're reading.
Not my usual fare, but this was excellent. I am not a hard-core SF fan so details about time travel and physics were kind of lost on me, but the witty humour and sheer weirdness of the story kept me swiping the face of my device to read on. Great read!