Genre: Short Story Collection
“What if you had access to a time machine and could go back to visit a deceased love... one more time. Would you?
In 1962, Bobby Newman’s Grandpa, a basement inventor, loses his wife to cancer, then begins to lose his mind to grief. While tuning up his not-yet-perfected time machine for one last visit with his wife, he ends up going the wrong way... into the dystopian future of 2025. Inexplicably, he sends the machine back.
Fourteen-year-old Bobby uses it to lead Mom and Dad on a mission to find Grandpa and bring him back.
But Grandpa has other ideas...
This volume brings together five of Paul Clayton's most ambitious stories to date, stories that juxtapose a familiar America of the very recent past with ominous new versions of the country now coming into focus.
Clayton's concern is with ordinary people—their innate wisdom and persistent foolishness, their capacity to do good or harm, and their resiliency—with what happens when time travelers from the 1960s arrive in a city dominated by criminal gangs and corrupt politicians, or when a woman opts for a new procedure to avoid losing her cancer-ridden husband, or when a soldier in Vietnam is granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give his elevator speech, or when a man, illegally alive, attempts to stay that way...
Clayton shows how people make choices that, collectively, point civilization in new directions, be it toward forcible reclamation of vast tracts of land as primeval wilderness or elimination of those deemed to be nonproductive ‘useless eaters.’”
Paul Clayton is the author of several books ranging from historical novels like his first, the award-winning Carol Melcher Goes to Vietnam, to various subgenres of science fiction.
The five short stories in this collection are each vastly different, but paint a possible future that is … well, you can decide whether each of these futures is good or not so good. These future worlds range from the almost-now, when a family from 1962 uses grandpa’s time machine to chase him all the way to 2025. This one definitely hits close to home for the obvious reasons. It (more or less literally) feels like it is happening right now, tomorrow at the latest, as it looks at some of the dystopian possibilities of our current world.
The other stories feel like they’re a bit more into the future, but not too far and, just like the first one, these stories get you thinking about the direction the world is headed, or at least potentially could be. While the future is far from predictable, what I look for in this kind of science fiction is exactly what is delivered here, some visions of the future to trigger my imagination and get me pondering the world of the future.
Some adult language.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words