Monday, December 2, 2013

Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition / Susan Sloate & Kevin Finn

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 140-145,000 words

Kindle  US: YES  UK: YES  Nook: YES  Smashwords: YES  Paper: YES
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Susan Sloate is the author of more than twenty books, both fiction and non-fiction. Additionally she’s written plays, screenplays, been a feature writer for multiple magazines, and a sportswriter as well as managed two political campaigns.

Just out of high school, Kevin Finn began his professional writing career as a television news and sports writer. He’s worked in TV and film since.

For more about Sloate, visit her website.



On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003 with a new Afterword from the authors.

On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price.

In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.

Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both.

History CAN be altered …”


I’m writing this review just a few weeks shy of the fiftieth anniversary of John Kennedy’s assassination and, I suspect, we’ll see (or have seen if you’re reading this after) a lot of news coverage and flashbacks. For baby boomers, this was a big deal. A touchstone event for a generation. It dwarfs the death of Kurt Cobain, my best guess of the closest equivalent for the next generation. And while Cobain’s death has its share of alternative interpretations and conspiracy theories, the volume of these doesn’t come close to that surrounding Kennedy’s death.

The premise of Forward to Camelot is your basic time travel story without Marty McFly’s concern that messing with the past will really mess up the future. It’s built around current understanding (at least as of the time the book was written) including some of the facts that have given rise to the many alternative theories as to what happened that day. Into that we’ve thrown Cady, a time-traveler hoping to find out why her father disappeared the same day and change her own history.

By their nature, time travel stories require a reader readily able to suspend disbelief. I don’t usually have a problem doing so and, at least for the majority of this story, I didn’t. The authors did a good job of interweaving actual events with their fiction, right up until the point where the story diverts from actual history into their alternative, where Kennedy survives. It was an interesting “what if.”

However, I also had a few issues, primarily with one particular sequence of events in the alternative history portion where Cady and Lee Harvey Oswald were being held captive by Don, Cady’s father, and forced to reveal where something (what isn’t important for this discussion) was hidden. As a delaying tactic, Cady had directed her father towards Galveston, planning to reveal that the item was actually in New Orleans at a point where it would be impossible to get there in time for his purposes.

It raised my eyebrows when Don guessed the item was in New Orleans and had somehow arranged for a plane and pilot to meet them at an airport near Galveston. But then, when the plane was unable to take off due to the weather, I was flabbergasted when Don chose to wait until morning and take a boat. The next morning they drive “hours” to the boat and then take that into New Orleans (five hours according to what we’re told). That they still managed to get to New Orleans just in time doesn’t say much for Cady’s delaying tactics. I guess they were doomed to fail. But if Don thought a quicker trip by plane was called for, why sleep for several hours and then use a method of travel that appears to have taken at least as long as going by car would have? Even accounting for the bad weather and slower travel on the highways of the time, this still didn’t make a lot of sense over leaving by car when the plane couldn’t take off. It did provide some chances for lots of conflict and adventure during the boat trip, but at the cost of credibility as the story was building to its climax.

Update: The authors brought to my attention two errors of fact in this review. Although I still have concerns with the believability of the portion of the book discussed in the last two paragraphs, I was incorrect when I indicated that Don and the others slept “for several hours” (this was another character) or that they waited until morning to start the trip by boat to New Orleans.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: *** Three stars

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