The Houses of Time
by Jamil Nasir
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765306104
Date: 01 April 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Jamil Nasir's fourth novel Houses of Time lumbers along following David Grant, a late-middle-aged man, in his search for a meaningful life. Grant, a womanizer and successful lawyer, lives a rich dream life with a young, beautiful woman. In his waking life, unable to sustain a relationship for long, he flits from one young woman to another seeking fulfillment. Eventually his search leads him to the Trans-Humanist Institute, Dr. Thotmoses, and the doctor's beautiful daughter/assistant Katrina. They help Grant shape his dreams.
Soon Grant has difficulty separating dreams from reality. Dr. Thotmoses' treatments leave Grant in a psychotic state and he ends up in a mental hospital. Such bouts continue for much of the novel.
Eventually Grant learns Katrina and her family belong to the Caucasus Synod Western Orthodox Church and they want him to intercede with the Universal Creator-Maintainer-Destroyer or Source of Fate (God) on their behalf. They believe he can reach God by traveling through parallel worlds. The search shares a common goal with Douglas Preston's Blasphemy, but whereas Preston rushes the reader along in the search for God, Nasir's narrative moves at a glacial pace as Grant lurches from dreams to different realities.
Beyond Grant, other characters receive little attention, and motives are murky at best. Part of Grant's problems lie in deciding whom and what reality to trust.
An accomplished literary writer, Nasir's prose flows easily. He includes discussions of the definition of reality and how quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle make parallel words possible. The novel may become a cult classic with some, but will confuse and bore other readers.