by Rebecca Ore
Cover Artist: John Picacio
Review by Sam Lubell
Eos Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0380792524
Date: 01 February, 2007 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Benedetta had an interesting life, and then an even more interesting afterlife. An assistant with her husband's gunnery crew in Lombardy in the late 1400s who knew Leonardo da Vinci, she wakes up from being wounded and finds herself in Purgatory. But why, she wonders, does the angel there have a scab on a finger? Ivar drowned off the coast of Iceland to find himself in Valhalla. But why would someone who drowned be given the reward for those fallen in battle and why, he wonders, does the All-Knowing Odin, not know his name. Jonah, a computer hacker from our time, thinks he's a Matrix-style computer simulation. In reality, all three have been brought forward in time to a future earth that is recovering from a massive plague. With Jonah's help, Benedetta escapes the Archives and finds lawyers willing to argue that the Archives have no right to imprison the people they rescue.
That's when things begin to become complicated. This future did not invent the time machine themselves but were given it from a future further up the timeline. And there are multiple futures competing to become real by changing the past. At the urging of some of these futures, the three from the past decide to group together and steal the time machine so they could choose who from the past would be saved. But then they get conflicting requests, one telling them not to bring in any of the Knights Templar and one telling them to rescue whom you can of the Knights Templar. Ultimately, they have to decide who they can trust and what future they want to create.
Time's Child succeeds on many levels. The glimpses into Benedetta's past and her dealings with Leonardo da Vinci are fascinating. (Ore should consider writing a historical.) There are parallels to the future as Philadelphia, New York and other American cities have become independent city-states like those Benedetta knew in Italy. And Benedetta, Ivan, and Jonah are three very different -- but real -- characters. I did think they adjusted to being in the future a little too easily; this is explained for Benedetta as being the influence of Leonardo but Ivan also seems to adjust very quickly.
Readers should ignore the description on the back of the book that makes it sound like a de Camp time travel adventure novel. There's certainly some action here and scheming and betraying. But the focus of the novel is more on how having the power to choose who gets saved affects the characters and on the effects on society of bringing people from the past. This makes Time's Child especially well suited for readers who enjoy some philosophy or social theorizing with their fiction.