TIME’S ENEMY: A SATURN SOCIETY TIME TRAVEL ROMANCE
By Jennette Marie Powell
Full disclosure: I adopted Jennette as my Li’l Sis back when Brett Michaels didn’t need a headband or plastic surgery. (I can say that. My wife grew up with Big John Murray, Brett’s former bodyguard. Hmm… Maybe I need to talk to him about researching a book…)
Tony Solomon gets a case of vertigo during a trip to the Mayan ruins, passes out, and finds himself in a dream where he’s being sacrificed to a Mayan god. When he wakes up, he’s perfectly fine except for the scar around his neck and on his chest that no one can explain. A man named Everly knows what happened, though. Tony is a psychic time traveler. He can move about in time by thought alone. When Tony realizes he has this power, he winds up back in Dayton, Ohio’s 1913 flood saving a little girl’s life. When he learns the little girl was also a time traveler, he goes back to 1933 to ask her how he can bring his murdered daughter back from the dead. Probably a bad idea. He finds himself on the most wanted list of the Saturn Society, an organization of time travelers dedicated to keeping the timeline intact. Bad things happen when you change the past, which Tony finds out by dropping his calculator in 1933. When he returns, he manages to save his daughter, but he also finds out what could be worse than 9/11. Much worse. But he has another dilemma. See, that little girl, Charlotte, grew up to become the love of his life, only they don’t get together until 1933, long before Tony is born. With the Society closing in on him, Charlotte takes drastic action to save him from a fate worse than death and winds up sucked into the future herself with no memory. See, travel to the future never seems to succeed.
Powell calls this a romance, and it certainly is, but it’s a solid science fiction thriller. The time travel has rules and consequences. It’s a trilogy, and December is not soon enough for part 2.
BONK: THE CURIOUS COUPLING OF SCIENCE AND SEX
Medical writer Mary Roach has taken a somewhat amused look at space travel and at the whole concept of cadavers. In Bonk, she takes on sex. There’s very little titillating about Roach’s look at the study of sexual physiology. Ever watch those shows on Discovery or The Science Channel about sex? Roach tells you how they study all that, how hard it is to get funding, and what exactly went into the landmark studies by Alfred Kinsey and Masters & Johnson.
Part of the problem with studying sex is finding volunteers. And so, in an effort to learn about learning about sex, Roach found herself the subject of a couple of experiments. In one case, she and her husband are asked to have sex inside an MRI tube. She says the act was very sex-like, but it wasn’t sex. Some of the experiments to measure arousal, study anatomy, or even look at the mechanics of various acts are more clinical than arousing. And the discussion of surgical procedures is enough to make both genders squirm.
But Roach, and reader Sandra Burr, deliver all this in a bemused tone, sometimes disbelieving that Roach is actually asking about how medicine tries to learn about sex.
HEART OF DARKNESS
By Joseph Conrad
The book that inspired Apocalypse Now, along with Conrad’s Lord Jim. This short novella concerns the voyage of an English sailor named Marlow, who takes a job captaining a river steamer for the Belgians in Africa. He arrives in the Congo and is immediately told about the trader he will be dealing with, a German gone rogue named Kurtz. Kurtz has a reputation, though no one seems to have met him. The head of the station where Marlow first lands is ecstatic that he’ll be going upriver to meet Kurtz. They expect great things of Kurtz back home, he says, and he goes out of his way to make sure Marlow doesn’t give Kurtz a “false impression” of him. Unfortunately, Marlow has to tolerate the sycophant while he repairs his steamer.
While waiting to get underway, Marlow witnesses how the white men treat the natives, thinking nothing of beating a few as punishment like common slaves. One is even hung while Marlow is there. When they go upstream, Kurtz’ rep becomes more mysterious as the company agents voice unease about Kurtz. Their only concern is ivory, but they believe Kurtz has setup his only little kingdom way up river in the dark of Africa.
When he arrives at his destination, he finds that Kurtz is worshiped almost as a god, even by his white assistants. The agents are having none of it, and when Kurtz is found deathly ill, they discuss hanging him along the trip home.
The title, Heart of Darkness, first refers to the dark of the City of London, which looms in the background of the framing story, then of darkest Africa, the great unknown. Ultimately, it refers to the inhumanity of Marlow’s employers, who are the true savages.