#TopTenTuesday XXI: A #SciFiMonth Top Ten : Bending Time and becoming a time traveller

Posted Tuesday, 8 November, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

#TopTenTuesday banner created by Jorie in Canva.

#TopTenTuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

There are moments I’ve curated lists rooted in the official topics of this meme as shared by the host whereas at other times, I’ve gone a bit rogue like other book bloggers wherein we curate our own topics to respond to during the weekly share of #TopTenTuesday. I’ve also re-spun this meme to participate in blog tours and/or featured events within the blogosphere which are as follows:

Visit my #TopTenTuesday archives

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Bending Time and becoming a time traveller
during the 10 years of #SciFiMonth or outside of it
| Hostess List

#SciFiMonth banner for 2022 created by Imryil and is used with permission.
Image Credit: SciFiMonth artwork is by the amazingly talented Simon Fetscher.

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A bit about why I love reading stories of Time Travel,
Time Shift & Time Bent narratives in Science Fiction
or across genres of interest where writers fuse
time into the backbone of their stories:

I originally tackled this topic during #SciFiMonth when I shared this post about why I love travelling through time and what it is about time travel narratives in all their incarnations which locks me into their vortexes as a reader. That was written during the first year of @SciFiMonth in [2013] and I have expanded on my JOY of this section of Speculative Literature in the ten years since I wrote it. This post will explore those stories I’ve discovered and those writers who have continued to give me wicked good reads whilst travelling through time and bending my bookish heart into evocative stories which celebrate and champion our pursuit of travelling outside of our own lifetimes through fictional encounters of time winders and benders.

As aside from reading time bending narratives, I’ve also hosted an array of guest features and posts by writers who write these stories as well. In case you wanted to hop through my archives to find out which stories and authors were featured – here is a quick guide:

  • Guest Post: A Suffragette in Time by Connie Lacy
  • Guest Post: The Angel of Time series by E. Graziani
  • Interview: The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson
  • Interview: Daughters of the Silk Road by Debbie Rix
  • Interview: The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley by Susan Ornbratt
  • Interview: about the Reincarnionist series by MJ Rose
  • Guest Post: On Time Slips by Christina Courtenay
  • Interview: About writing “To Live Forever” by Andra Watkins

I read a considerable selection of Time Travelling & Time Bending stories – all of which were wickedly delightful and devoured:

Whilst I’ve also featured a few of them as well ahead of reading:

As much as there were a few which left me conflicted after reading them:

And, there was one story that felt like a slip in time but wasn’t a traditional time slip novel:

You might also take stock of the fact I happen to read a heap of time narratives within the context and construct of Historical Fiction moreso than I actually do in Science Fiction. Although I would lament that ALL time narratives are part of Science Fiction on some level because of the ways in which time affects and intervenes on behalf of the characters and their journeys within those stories. However, I do hope I can start to read and seek out more time bent, time shift and time travelling stories within the main sphere of Science Fiction a bit more moving forward as I do have the tendency to become smitten and charmed by the writers of Historical Fiction who are giving me wicked good time adventures!

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#SciFiMonth 2022 Top Ten Prompt graphic created by Imyril and is used with permission.
Image Credit: SciFiMonth artwork is by the amazingly talented Simon Fetscher.

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Top tens for our tenth year

We loved having weekly Favourite Fives for Wyrd & Wonder’s fifth birthday, so it’s only right to go full Top Tens for SciFiMonth’s tenth! But what are those weekly topics?

  • Previously, On SciFiMonth: SFnal books / films / shows / games you enjoyed or were introduced to during SciFiMonth in the past
  • Turn Back Time: feature tales about time travel or shout about classic SF titles
  • To Boldly Go: contribute to RunalongWomble’s excellent #SmallPressBigStories initiative with a top ten focusing on stories published by independent and small presses
  • One Small Step: sure we love a sprawling space opera, but this week is for celebrating short stories, novellas and novelettes
  • Can’t Stop The Signal: SciFiMonth is all about the community – share your favourite SF blogs we should follow

as it was disclosed via Imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More

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As you can tell, I read an incredible amount of time bending stories as a book blogger & as a reader who appreciates seeing how writers elect to bend time within their story and world. It is an interesting concept and everyone has a different spin on enticing us into their time slip, time bent or time travelling narrative. Narrowing this list down to a Top Ten List was most difficult because some of the stories I’ve championed in the past I decided to let shine in the background this time round and chose instead to feature other stories I’ve discovered in more recent years that are equally ringing true to me as being top favourite reads in this particular genre of interest.

You’ll also notice a bit of a trend – whereas I am sure others who are participating in this post challenge might be focused more on Science Fiction time bending stories — I’ve taken a bit of a different route of exploration! Mostly because a LOT of my travels in time are through the Historical Fiction realms moreso than Science Fiction! I’ve chosen to link to other reviews in the top half of this post in case you wanted to see which stories I’ve read which also parlay into this subject of interest and perhaps expand your own TBR as well. I decided to include guest features in case you wanted to see which authors responded to my topics and/or of whom conversed with me on different subjects interlinked to their stories.

A very hard list to compile this week – not to mention the fact it was doubly hard with a severe migraine which pushed me offline and kept postponing this to be shared! It was one of those sledgehammer migraines which affects me for days and takes more days to recover from — even by Saturday (the 12th) as I was working on the edits for this and backposting it to Tuesday when I originally wanted to have it featured — my head was throbbing and driving me bonkers! Yet, it proved to be a distraction I needed, and I took several breaks to give my head a break from the computer in order to get this finalised.

I look forward to visiting with others who have responded to this prompt, and I hope they will spend a bit of time on this response as well and let me know if any of the stories I’m featuring might become #nextreads of their own!

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No. 1 | Christmas Once Again by Jina Bacarr : Historical Time Travel

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

There are moments in our readerly lives where we discover a story and a writer who change our perception of how a story can both be told and experienced. I learnt a lot about this novel ahead of reading it but when my library purchased it for me in [2019] it was truly the gift I needed as a reader because I knew I didn’t have the ability to purchase the novel myself at that time. I still haven’t had the chance to gather a copy of this novel for myself — something I both regret and realise just couldn’t have happened at the time of its original release. It is definitely a book I want to gather as soon as I can however since I’ve read it and had such a strong connection to it as a reader – the title of the novel has changed to Her Lost Love.

And, yes, I suppose that makes sense – both in title and in the fact, I had a feeling it was done for marketing reasons as sometimes holiday specific titles are overlooked by certain readers (or so I’ve been told, this doesn’t apply to me personally!) but for me, the original title is truly at the heart of the story and what pulled me into the realms of the story itself. Sometimes I wish stories can just remain as they were and be celebrated as they are rather than having to become re-packaged. It is my goal to find a copy of this novel in its original state and hopefully one day it will be on my personal library shelves.

I found this novel unputdownable due to the emotional attachment I had to Kate & Jeff; to Lucy and to the residents of Posey Creek. You feel so intimately connected to the whole ensemble cast – these characters are breathed to life so wholly realistically true of their generation, your heart bleeds for them – for what could have been, for what is and what could be anew. This is a novel whose message at its core is one of those seminal reads which becomes a classic in its own right for reaffirming our humanity, our graceful hopefulness & the enduring love which unconditionally unites our faithful hopes to our earnestly desired dreams.

From the moment you pick up Christmas Once Again – your heart feels like it is fully entwined into the soul of Kate, journeying after her, clicking into her heels and finding yourself struck by the unfairness of time and of the heartless way war can alter your life’s trajectory. Bacarr gives you such a deeper reason for taking this journey with Kate – she tucks you into her internal war of thoughts, memories and the earnest hopes of a young girl turnt thirty-something woman who aches after what ‘could have been’ despite the fact she had to reinvent herself in the future – moving towards a career which sustained her but only giving her a half-life to live. This is the truer beauty of the piece – of anchouring you so wholly through this portal of time, romance and life to feel as if the book itself has filled your own soul with Kate’s experiences as they’ve become imprinted into your own memories and stitched a new tapestry of thought into your own soul.

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One of the hardest parts of writing this review was sorting out how to talk about the elements of the story – both from the characters’ journey point of view and from the elements of what tucked us into a time travel narrative which explored time travel through a portal aboard a train!! Let me explain a bit more about this method of travelling through time as it was mentioned in the novel:

→ Time Travelling (ie. portal involves a train)

When it comes to the elemental aspects of time travelling within Christmas Once Again you find yourself within a conceptional portal which uses a ‘train’ to undertake the travelling aspects of the genre. The technique is a clever one and it isn’t one you can sort through until you read through the whole story which I preferred as I like mysteries within my time travelling stories – I like feeling the suspension of how the components of travelling through time are assembled whilst at the same time I like to feel caught up in the momentum of the person whose travelling through time. I was not disappointed – Bacarr presented such a humbling honest portal in which her character can travel through it felt wicked real and alluringly amazing.

Whenever I start to read a time travel story, I am dearly anticipating the moment the ‘travelling’, ‘shifting’ or ‘bending’ to time will begin. I am anxious to see if I can believe that transitional moment and also, feel both anchoured into the original timeline of the story and then, the alternative one as soon as we’ve bent ourselves through time by the will of the writer whose giving us a story to experience that will re-adjust our perceptions and understanding of time and how it can be lived through as we journey after their characters. In this regard, Bacarr elevated what I hoped to have found and truly gave me a story which I read at just the right moment for me as a reader. It became such a strong presence in my life that year and it had aftereffects of joy bubbling through me as [2020] started to get underway. And, isn’t that incredible considering what was awaiting us all within a few short months after that particular New Year!

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No. 2 |  The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley : Historical Time Shift

→ selected quotations are from my review of The Seven Sisters (book one)

This series has a special place in my heart – I felt deeply connected to the backstories of the Seven Sisters themselves – especially when it came to Pa Salt and how they became a family. Riley has since passed on and the news of her death hit me quite hard indeed. I was able to talk to her about the series and how much I loved reading the stories before the final two or three were published. I was even on one of the latter blog tours with the publisher (or was it two tours?). Socially she was very approachable on Twitter – one of the writers, of whom left such a strong impact on me as a reader was equally enthused to know how much her story connected with me as I was to give her a note of gratitude on my readerly experiences.

My sole regret is that I wasn’t able to borrow the final installments of the series as my library purchased copies as I had originally planned to finish the series closer to when I read the last installment I reviewed. At some point, I’d love to purchase my own set of the books – going back through them bit by bit and settling myself into this world she created for us to journey inside. It is incredible how layered she made the series and how evocative each sisters’ story became to read. 

Not every writer can write such a keen sense of awareness of life and the ways in which we interpret how we are living has an effect on our mind, heart and soul. Ms Riley speaks to the heart-sense of our soul – of how what we feel can evoke how we think whilst giving a grounding of what roots us to our families; our environs and the places we call home. These simple truths are evident within us all – yet, it’s the ways in which Ms Riley broaches them into her narrative which feels so very authentic to what all of us experience throughout the transitional shifts of our lives which makes reading deeper into her text such a joyful moment of discovery. I loved watching her pen etch out the words – of alighting us in-step with her characters in such a way to understand what they are going to say before they even have a chance to think through things themselves.

I truly love how we are able to engage with both time-lines within the story itself – of understanding the sisters’ lives in the present but also, to tuck back into the past, to start to see how their origins were defined by the people who came before them. In this particular novel, we are moving backwards in time and forward in motion at the same time – for Maia is in the present-day Rio whilst Bel is of the historic Rio; each of them, are sorting out who they are – seeing themselves with new eyes and sorting out how they truly feel about the life they are seeking to live. It is interesting how within these layers, you start to see pieces of each of the women – Bel and Maia stepping forward and out of their own time-lines; of how portions of who they are are reflected in each other whilst the critical part of what connects them is still lingering just out of sight; of being confirmed.

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This is a definitive series for those who appreciate seeking out Time Shift stories and having dual time-lines to explore as their reading through one character in the present and one in the past. Time Shift stories as enjoyable to me as travelling through time because we get to take our entrances through different portals of insight per each character we’re shifting into as the story ebbs and flows between two uniquely different timescapes. It allows a very interpersonal exploration of time and also of the backdrop wherein we’re placed. 

I was eagerly awaiting when time would shift – the first part of the novel is focused on Maia in 2007, the second part steps into Izabela’s life in 1927 – the shift occurs when Maia is entrusted with a parcel of letters. Letters which could be the tipping hat towards her heritage, but more delightfully than this are the gateway into the past – of revealling what bears knowing from the twenties and if there is indeed a connection to the older woman who is at the end of her years in the crumbling ruins of her family’s estate. A woman who is tight-lipped and unwavering in her inability to find reason to give Maia even a bone of an inch towards understanding her ancestral heritage. You have to wonder what people are so very afraid of – of how the truth of someone’s heritage could unsettle them so dearly; and what, if anything this late in the game, could possibly affect them to such a degree as to remain silent?

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No. 3 | Wishful Thinking Kamy Wicoff : Contemporary Time Bending

→ selected quotation is from my review of this novel

This was one of my first reads by She Writes Press and I was completely tethered into the story and the ways in which it was written by Wicoff. On appearance you’re not expecting it to involve any kind of time bending at all – as it is a Contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. And, yet, as you dive deeper into the context of how she’s written the story, you start to pool the pieces of how this story interweaves itself through different layers of interest – especially about how it is tethered to both Science and Time.

Wicoff has an intensity about her novel; where there is a yearning itch to allow us to travel through Jennifer’s shoes in order to understand the greater scope of where the story is taking us. So much so, there is a fork in the time continuum where you start to notice how your nearly siding with Alicia not Jennifer, as far as which Mum has managed to live a life she will not regret. It’s a story that asks the bigger questions (i.e. of life, of living, of mumhood, of personal sanctity of wellness, career vs life at home, etc) wrapped inside a time-travel suspense plot!

The reason I tweeted this as I was reading the story, is because the suspense arc of Wishful Thinking lies within the invisible border between where science, conscience, and morality intervene. There is an ethical undernote to the story, which fits within the paradigm of science because most of the best innovators and inventors (inasmuch as physicists) walk either in line with their ethics or regret choices they made lateron in their career if their conscience regretted their paths. It takes on a visceral experiment to extract what would happen if you could bend time to your will whilst bending time outside it’s own neutral existence.

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As you can tell by the excerpt, I chose to share this week, it is in of itself a unique novel and one that parlays itself to curious discussion and reflection after it is written. I was impressed by how contemporary it felt and how modern it settles us into a life that is not entirely unfamiliar from our own. It yields to harder choices and an undercurrent of ethics in which Wicoff explores rather brilliantly whilst giving us a uniquely told tale in the process.

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No. 4 | The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley by Susan Ornbratt
: Historical Time Shift

→ selected quotation is from my review of this novel

This is one of those stories which emotionally overtook my bookish soul – similar in vein to the very first Seven Sisters novel I read. There are some writers I’ve discovered over the last nine years as a book blogger who have effectively changed the way I read and elevated the ways in which I seek out stories to read. Ornbratt is one of them — I had hoped there might be other releases in the years since I first read about Gillian Pugsley (and I do check off/on) but so far, I’ve not seen one come along which I felt was a shame because she has such an incredible knack for both crafting a story and for settling us inside a convicting journey with the character she is breathing to life.

With choking reality absorbing into my very soul as I read the latter quarter of the novel, I realised this is truly a lovingly written novel by a granddaughter in homage to her grandmother. Even before I could confirm this was writ with a strong presence of autobiographical inspirations, I sensed it. Örnbratt has writ her heart so close to the heart of Gilly, she has found a way to step through the story and align directly into it’s narrative core. Gilly is the one who needed to tell Gillian’s story because it’s through Gilly, Gillian’s truer legacy can shine outward and inward for all of time. By truer, here I refer to the realisation that a live lived with the absence of love is only half a life lived; but a life lived where you dare to embrace love and hold onto it with all of your being is living life on faith secured in hope.

I could not leave Gillian and Gilly’s story for long moments of absences because it was their story so strongly entwined that allured me to take up residence in their lives. It’s a historical mystery in many regards; as who was the soul-mate of Gillian and how did Gillian resolve a trauma buried in her past in order to allow herself to be free in the future? Hidden secrets are rampant but the inertia of how everything is pieced together bit by bit is what anchours you so front and center into this novel, you will find it unputdownable. You ache to know more at each junction, and it’s even hard to resolve whose your favourite secondary character – they are each illuminated with such depth and individualism.

Even Gillian’s sister, Beaty is a strong force to reckon with as she is a secondary narrator (at least she was for me) wherein the voice of reason and of solemn truth comes in ripples of sisterly love spun out of maternal instinct. There is a special friendship shared between Gillian and her young charge who had to return to India on the offset of war. Every season of the story has it’s own telling moment of honesty, nothing is left to your imagination nor is any stone left unexamined. Örnbratt has written a testament of the soul to remain true to itself and allow it’s heart to take a chance on a forever love of whom understands without any justifications. She’s written a story for women who are seeking something quite hearty about the journey we take to seek ourselves and the people we love most.

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You will not ache to have anything else said by the time you finish this novel. There is a fullness of presence within it and a soul-clutch of emotions by the time you conclude the journey with Gillian. Her instincts for telling this story were bang-on brilliant and I am eagerly awaiting more stories from her if and when she’s able to write them.

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No. 5 | A Stitch in Time by Amanda James : Historical Time Travel

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

During the years I was a reviewer with ChocLitUK, there were two novels in particular which suited this topic best and A Stitch in Time was one of them. Mostly because it is a story about a woman who is a time traveller wherein James envelopes us inside that nexus of choosing how to effect and reflect the conflicts of what it means to actually dip in and out of the historical past by someone from a contemporary future. As there are protocols in place to maintain the consistency of time as much as there is an urgency of why her character needs to travel as well.

James has a clever way of knowing exactly how to pin-point the time eras she wants her readers to alight inside, as from the very moment the timescape of the London Blitz came into view to when Sarah is plucked back into her contemporary modern life in 2013; James has an uncanny familiarity with each timescape she pens into life. The second time Sarah exchanges one life for another places her in 1913; this time as the unwitting lower grade maid to a lady whose sense of dictation of duties is without boundaries. The visual clues of each time jump Sarah Yates takes within A Stitch in Time draws the reader into a closer viewing of where history and the moral obligation to put something right which may have gone array into central focus. James does a wonderful job of bringing the theory of time splintered theories wherein if you could travel back and forth in time, what would you do with the moments you were given!? Would you work towards saving humanity one person at a time? Would you attempt to fix a nanosecond in the past, if it would effectively give one human the chance to survive?

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What was different about this story of course was the choices James presented to her character and to the reader. A lot of the themes explored I felt befitted readers who were familiar with Quantum Leap and the choices Sam had to make whilst he travelled. Whilst at the same time, James tucked us close to how time travelling worked in this world she’s created and she had a lovingly brilliant backstory/history to those who travelled, too. There were distinct roles certain persons played within the time bending storyline and of course, with that more responsibility!

I also felt it was an interesting diversion from the regular choices I was making as a reviewer with ChocLitUK as they regularly featured Contemporary & Historical Romances but every now and then, they were dipping their toes into exploring Speculative Fiction as well as this clearly was a strong story for readers who are seeking a different kind of time travel narrative.

A theory on time, the traveller who knits it back together, & the reality of time travel:

James reveals the basis of her running theory on the full dimension of being a time traveller and one who intends to not only travel along the meridians of time but on fusing time as a broken structure of record back together again; with a propensity of precision generally relegated to knitters or sewers. I, personally, loved what the time traveller’s mentor and guide is called inside the story (as a Time Needle sounds ever so posh) as ‘needling with time’ simply made a heap of sense to me! Time travellers by definition can either muck up an alignment of the continuum itself OR they can create positive contributions by causing a deviant of order as they re-distribute a level of calm within the chaos. I even liked how she parlayed her theory within the title of the novel itself, by using a Stitch in such a clever execution of a person’s job rather than rely solely on prior knowledge the reader may or may not have had as far as vetting information on the subject for themselves.

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No. 6 | Remembrance by Rita Woods : Historical Time Shift

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

This was my first (and last sadly) subscription box I received as a reviewer and influence for Once Upon A Book Club wherein you receieved a novel and curiously wrapped ‘gifts’ which matched in-line the story you were about to read, which I went into detail about on my review. I wanted to make my review an interpersonal journey for my readers and visitors alike, to see what it was like to be the reader who received that particular box but also, to see how the gifts themselves matched the story and what they individually highlighted therein.

Woods wrote a very emotional Historical Time Shift novel – it is not one to be read if your not ready for the emotions it will draw out of you but it is a beautifully written novel. You can even start to pierce together when you will shift based on the signals and cues Woods wrote into the story!

Woods allowed her characters to prompt us as readers when we would start to shift through time – as there was a purposeful intention about when we would re-align in a different century to walk alongside her characters, and I felt this was one of the more organic ways to let time ‘slip’ into three distinctively unique timescapes. She captured the era of her characters well and also their beliefs and the ways in which they live their lives. She allowed you the ability to stay with them long enough to understand them, to see their motivations and to respect their stations whilst giving you something deeper to ponder as you read deeper into the story wherein all of the characters were becoming threaded together into a woven tapestry of connectedness.

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The best way I can present this novel is to give an excerpt from my review which talks about the individual women who are part of the backbone of the story as each of them was such a wickedly interconnective thread of the story itself. It was incredible to have each of the four women so dearly developed and present as to have equal shares of empathsis in the story, too. As sometimes with a larger cast this isn’t able to be done and you tend to have to focus on just a few of the characters moving in and out of your purview. Blessedly in this instance, each of these lovely women have their moments to shine and leave a lasting impression on you as you shift back and forth through their lives.

What I loved learning about each of the women connected in the story are the following:

Gaelle (modern day) believes in what cannot be seen nor explained through modern science or religious beliefs. She doesn’t quite explain herself as we first meet her only that she has a firm sense about how she has unique talents that are limited to a few like her and that I believed she wasn’t entirely sure how those particular talents are passed down.

Margot (19th Century, Louisiana) was gifted with the ability to heal but in the kind of method that is sometimes known as psychic healing as she can see what is wrong with someone simply through her touch and that is a unique gift to have in of itself. Yet her grandmother has the gift of hearing spirits and of intoning their messages; together they worked towards respecting what the spirits foretold but also in having Margot not forsake her talent if it were needed.

Abigail (18th Century, Haiti) was a mother of twin boys who lived on the island and worked for a plantation owner. Her life’s path was not immediately known in the story as it had to evolve forward through the harrowing uprising of the slaves before she would meet her destiny in New Orleans.

Winter (18th Century) as I was reading Remembrance I sensed the fourth woman noted on the cover art of the novel would be a hidden character. One of whom might be slightly overlooked or perhaps slightly hidden from our perspective until her story was meant to be revealled. In the end, I was right on both counts and it is Winter’s thread of the story which I had a feeling would unite all the threads of the tapestry her story was meant to weave together.

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No. 7 | The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack : Historical Time Travel

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

I’ve been reading the time travelling stories by Womack for awhile now — in fact, I have another one on my shelf which has been lingering on my backlogue for a few years, too. Each of her stories tucks us deeply into the portal of History she’s immersing us inside and gives us a clever approach to seeing how both the fusion of History and the journey of time collide together to give a very dramatically stirring read!

Time travelling mysteries such as the one Womanck has assembled for us to read, is in part a mystery told in pieces – you have to re-arrange the pieces back together as you would a jigsaw puzzle! Each piece might seem like it interlocks to another, but how and why do those pieces behave in the way they do if they are only meant to paint one portrait of interest? This mystery has hidden layers and duality of meaning for each revelation Bryan and Linz feel they are on the cusp of understanding. You hunger to turn the pages – Womack has writ such an eloquent story, her words easily leap off the pages as your reading whilst endeavouring to keep your rapt attention until the very last chapter is consumed!

The deeper you entreat into the story, the more you see how intricate the plot is tethered, not only are Bryan and Linz connected but so too, are the scientists who originally created the drug that altered the state of everyone’s living realities; it was meant to help people with debilitating dementia but somewhere became an arc into sorting out how to re-live past lives whilst attaching oneself to memories of people they used to be whilst understanding the past lives of everyone else they encountered. This took being psychic to a new heightened horizon as it wasn’t simply ‘seeing people’ as the person they were in the past but understanding the whole living history of that individual! To put it a different way, it was similar to how Dr. Beckett stepped into each new life whilst he was ‘quantum leaping’ through history.

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I was captivated by how deft her eye is on History and on the eras of History she presents inside her novels – as she has a way of choosing what to focus on that not only has a keen interest for her characters but she has such a way of capturing it for us as readers who might not have expected to travel to those parts within the past as well. She also has a gift for weaving a Historical Mystery – of giving us pieces of the puzzle as we read but not the whole picture of it and allows us to take the journey alongside her sleuthing characters as we travel after them to uncover what is both hidden and unknown.

I give a nod of excellence to Womack for compellingly giving her readers a visceral level of realism towards understanding how Bryan painted his portraits of life and death! She used words as he uses paint – you could not help but feel as if you were standing below his portraits, seeing how everything felt alive and telling in that stance you took to see what shouldn’t be able to be seen. It’s a lovely novel of depth for the world of art, as similar to music, art is at times hard to conceptionalise on the page; Womack had such an organic way of presenting the art, you could not help but appreciate it in full!

How Womack was able to intervene on History to such a level of intriguing juxtapositions, I am uncertain! As she even brought back to life the compelling argument of how sometimes not everything is fully resolved before or after death! She interwove Egyptology in such a fascinating and inventive way as to cross their Ancient History with our current timeline! It was wonderful to watch her pull her layers together, explore the details further and to watch how even her characters were a bit startled by how everything was inter-connecting straight through to the finish! Her mind truly has captured the intricacies of a plot that is told not only through multiple perspectives but through a threading of counter current lives who are affectingly drawn to each other due to how their past lives originally affected their soul’s journey. Now that’s beyond impressive for a debut novel!

This wasn’t merely about how art transfused living history onto canvas or how medical science was pushing itself into a paradigm of a new age of technologic advances that could take humanity to the ledge of where ethics were no longer visible. It was about how what was first learnt in the past is truly meant to be repeated until the lesson that was never quite absorbed is fully known. In each painting there was a hidden secret, a hidden truth about ‘something’ that was quite pertinent to be revealled but which was cast out of history’s view. Even pages of the historical past were already known to be altered in historical accounts, something that Bryan learnt by visiting the library. Womack creates an undercurrent of a thinking-narrative that leads you down more than one avenue of interest as your trying to solve the mystery and arrive at the conclusion before Bryan and Linz.

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No. 8 | Eruption by Adrienne Quintana : Contemporary Time Bending
a duology which continues in Reclamation (see also Review)

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

This was the first time I found myself attaching to a Techno-Thriller with a time bending contemporary plot! I oft felt inclined to read Techno-Thrillers but I never could quite pick up on which writers were writing the stories I a) wanted to read or b) could handle as a lot of them are heavy on both action and violence and others tuck into corridors of thought I’d just rather not pursue. Quintana on the other hand gave us something different to chew on and did it whilst anchouring her plot and characters inside a time travelling story!

Eruption proves that you can formulate a new bridge between where techno-thrillers can merge quite beautifully with a time travel narrative arc, and this is a credit to Quintana whose given us a debut novel that entices you to seek out the continuing chapters inside this duology! Quintana included ‘just enough’ current events and tidbits of our modern 21st Century to encourage a balance of ‘when’ and ‘where’ the story takes place whilst providing a backdrop that we can instantly relate too as we read her debut. It was quasi-political without being a complete politico novel!

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This is a duology wherein I left a rather expansive review about Reclamation (see also Review) and how the duology interlocks together as well as readerly takeaways about how you can move in and out of the duology itself. The words I left on behalf of the sequel truly align directly into the backbone of the story but also eclipse my experience in a way that surprised me looking back over it now as I truly had tapped into how I wanted to articulate that particular experience of reading the duology. Quintana is one of those writers who liked to dive into how time travelling worked in this story and what the key elements were for time travelling to occur. It is nice to see how different writers approach this and what their technical or non-technical explanations are for how it is able to happen.

→ Time Travelling via your mind

There is a sequence in the story where Eruption becomes more of a philosophical quagmire of right, wrong, and the blurry line which remains gray. The time travel explored in this book is similar to Time and Again, as you’re travelling through your mind rather than your physical self. Yet, this in of itself is interesting enough, but it is the undercurrent thread of the story that leaves you chock full of thoughts when you conclude the last chapters. It’s not a straight good vs evil plot nor is it completely without a cliffhanger ending that leaves you a bit more puzzled than certain of why Jace had to live through everything she did. The most convicting passages were in the ending chapters, where you find out Jace isn’t your typical character, nor has she lived a life that you can relate too.

Part of me was a bit more curious about the intentions behind Damien and Damien’s father for the experiment itself, and what that would lead to next. The most haunting aspects of Eruption are singularly how far one man will go to succeed at a mission he’s taken on that is against humanity. The most compelling part is finding out how strong Jace and Corey were to attempt to cut him off at the pass! I am uncertain where the second half of this installment will lead the reader, but I know this much: Quintana has given a story that gets you thinking about what is perceived, what is understood, and where illusion can circumvent logical memory.

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No. 9 | The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson : Time Travel & Alt Realities

*read during #SciFiMonth, 2015!

→ selected quotations are from my review of this novel

I celebrated re-discovering the fact I read this particular ChocLitUK novel during #SciFiMonth! Isn’t that grand?! I wasn’t sure if I had read one during this event but was thankful I had. And, especially moreso when I realised it was this particular one as again, similar to A Stitch in Time – this one was wholly original and different from the other releases by the publisher! Especially as this particular story is more of a mash between Alternative Reality/History and Time Travel!

Johnson doesn’t slowly build the reader’s interest into her world but rather drops them so unceremoniously into the commotion of what is happening to her characters, as to make the reader feel quite at home despite the frenzy of what is about to breach onto the page! Her world-building is lightweight and easily able to transition from the present day to the past; or rather into this ‘alternative historical’ arm of where the present could have gone in a different time reality than our own. It’s a curious prospect of quantum physics – how many realities and time variables are there per each generation of life known in our own historical past? How many times does time bend against it’s own continuum to create the vortex of differences?

Rather than bolting down the specifics of how and why Eve Carpenter made her time slip into this new reality, Johnson focuses on the importance of how this intrusion on Harker’s reality upsets the cart of balance in his time era. This is definitely a book which would appeal to science fiction readers who happen to enjoy reading a bit of Rom where the focus is on what to do once you’ve re-positioned yourself ‘elsewhere’ without the benefit of proof of ‘where’ you’ve come.

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I always felt that if there was a reader out there who was a Whovian – this would be the BOOK for them to read because it parlayed itself into that kind of reading experience, they would expect to find from watching Doctor Who. I was simply mesmorised by it – the plot itself, the characters and even where we were placed inside an alt-verse of Britian was just spectacular! It has a lot of those Speculative elements you are hoping for in a time bending narrative but it also has a lot of heart and a lot of curiously sharpened insight by a writer who knows how to craft a wicked adventure for readers seeking an alternative to the regular fare!

Alternative Reality and Time narratives:

Johnson conveys the time jolt and alternative reality quite well – especially if I could draw a line of clarity from her narrative to several of the Doctor Who teleplays I watched during Sci Fi November 2013 and 2014! I cannot remember which episodes they were exactly, but the good Doctor has a way of inserting himself into a time void as readily as if he were bourne there. Johnson has taken on this alternative London with the same repose of a native, given us a sharpening of this reality against the light of where history used to reflect a different outcome.

You are jettisoned so surely into this UK, this untethered and untied version of it – you can easily find yourself drawn up inside it’s folds. It’s a unique time where women hold more positions of power than men (especially in regards to the Army) and where there is an imbalance of trust; forged by the difficulties of fighting an enemy who has more resources than your own. I liked how Johnson pulled back some of the technological advances, such as aviation and mass communication (i.e. the telephone), giving her world a bit of an old fashioned mode of pace and visuals.

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No. 10 | My tenth choice is featuring CLOCKPUNK which involves TIME in a very unique way and I felt befits being mentioned on this list:

Timekeeper by Tara Sim : Speculative Time Bending

I definitely consider this a strong entrance into Clockpunk – the variant of Steampunk, still lodged in the Victorian past but with a strong influence of clocks to where the stories interweave through technology which is limited by the presence of clocks and the full use of their technology to carry forward.

→ selected quotations are from my review of this audiobook

When it comes to discussing my favourite trifecta of time stories – it is worth mentioning that there is a sub-genre I desire to explore further which I felt befits this topic because Clockpunk definitely involves TIME and CLOCKS in particular. This was my first foray into reading Clockpunk and I did it through the audiobook adaptation for the story by Sim. I felt in the end that was the best way for me to read the story because of how the narrators pulled you so close to the context of the story but also, the emotions and world Sim knitted into it as well. It is on my list of #mustlistens one day to go back through this series (as it is a trilogy) and finally hear it start to finish.

There is a pallor cast over this world – everywhere you look there is a bit of a gloomy edge to the scenery and the setting of where we entreat into Danny’s world. There are hardships present here and as the background seeks to express the emotions of the characters and of the positions of the clock towers; you see the harder lines of how in this reality, life is lived under a pressure boiler. Sim taps into how to fuell the back-story of her characters by presenting different points-of-view to give the reader a proper chance to envision how this world and the differences in classes can relate to our contemporary world; especially due to how many things both worlds have in common with each other. This is a story of the working middle-class and how there are everyday struggles to not just survive but to rise above where living by paycheck is not commonplace; where life can encourage more out of the hours than what was necessary.

This is such an emotional story to listen too, as Sim has interwoven such a soul-centred narrative where you truly feel the emotions of her characters. The oppressive weight bearing down on Danny is not just realistic but heavily felt as you tune into the angst of what he is faced to choose between: the clocks, his father or Colton. He’s caught in an impossible situation – does he own his heart’s truth or does he sacrifice his heart and the love he feels for Colton to save everyone else? And, what is of the truth behind the attacks on the clock towers? Who would have the best advantage if the clocks froze or ceased to clock time at all? This is what your thinking about as your listening whilst trying to piece everything together as Danny tries to determine what he should do. Sim gives you so much to think about – the past adversities affecting Danny, the impossible situation of the present involving Colton and the curious unknown of the future which seems to sit directly on Danny’s path – where his actions would determine everything.

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And, yes, this concludes my Top Ten List of Bending Time and Becoming a Time Traveller stories that I hope might inspire you to explore new voices in time narratives and perhaps find a lovely #mustread this #SciFiMonth or beyond! I know Clockpunk is a bit unorthodox to mention or connect to Time Travel but I felt as time and clocks were so important to the story, it deserved to take my 10th spot on the list. Likewise, from the chronicling of other posts I mentioned on the top half of this post, you have the chance to find out which other stories involving these narratives I have the tendency to gravitate towards and which ones truly stood out to me as being part of my most beloved #mustreads!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This marks my second post of participation on behalf of:

#SciFiMonth 2022 banner created by Jorie in Canva.

I am enjoying responding to the prompts & challenges this year for #SciFiMonth as their helping me re-visit my own archives for #SciFiMonth as much as their helping me compile what I’ve read and explored throughout Science Fiction and/or other genres which parlay into the Speculative wherein Sci-Fi elements and topics can become explored. This was quite enjoyable personally because of how much I LOVE Time Travel, Time Shift & Time Bent stories!!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I look forward to hearing if you’ve read one of these stories and/or if I’ve encouraged you to pick one of these novels to explore yourself! I am relying on the Mission Logs (provided by Lisa & Imyril) to visit with everyone this November however, if you comment I’ll bump my visit to your blog(s) to the top of the travel list! I would love to know if you are using the prompts & challenges this year, too on your blog?!

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{SOURCES: Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Official #SciFiMonth graphics (ie. the badge, the banner and the Top Ten Prompts graphic) were provided by the event host Imyril (all artwork credit is by the amazingly talented Simon Fetscher) and are used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #SciFiMonth 2022 banner, #TopTenTuesday banner as well as the Comment box banner.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 8 November, 2022 by jorielov in #SciFiMonth, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Sci-Fi November, Top Ten Tuesday

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One response to “#TopTenTuesday XXI: A #SciFiMonth Top Ten : Bending Time and becoming a time traveller

  1. I like how you approached time bending stories in this blog post, and included books from a variety of genres. I didn’t expect The Seven Sisters series on the list, but it actually is a great choice! I love how the dual timelines in each part combine two stories in a way that they complement each other. It was so interesting to see each of the sisters grow and become more confident while learning about her roots. My favourite characters were Star and Flora. And I can’t wait to read the final book!

    I also considered putting Timekeeper on my own list. It’s fascinating how the clock towers in the story don’t only keep track of time, but actually control it. It’s nice that you mostly chose for lesser-known books. I never heard about A Stitch in Time or The Memory Painter, but both sound like books I will like.

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