'The Map of Time': Heartbroken English aristocrat time-travels to prevent a murder
"The Map of Time" by Spanish novelist Felix J. Palmas is a baggy but imaginative look at what might happen if H.G. Wells' novella "The Time Machine" inspired a real device.
Special to The Seattle Times
'The Map of Time'
by Felix J. Palmas, translated by Nick Caistor
Atria, 612 pp., $26
The first of a projected trilogy, "The Map of Time" is an ambitious and generous example of the literary genre known as steampunk. Author Felix J. Palmas uses the basic ingredients of steampunk — fantasy, mystery, ripping adventure and Victorian-era high-tech — to marvelous effect.
In this book, the first by Palmas to appear in English, the young Spanish writer wonders: What if H.G. Wells' 1895 novella "The Time Machine" inspired a real device? And what if that device were put to commercial use?
It would be a smash success, naturally, and its owner would be the toast of London. So it is — as "The Map of Time" opens, none other than Queen Victoria has already made a trip into the future in the marvelous device.
Andrew Harrington desperately wants to take a journey of his own. Much to his family's horror, the young aristocrat fell in love with a prostitute, only to see her murdered by Jack the Ripper. Years later, nearly suicidal with grief, Harrington pleads to be taken back in time to prevent the killing. But there's a problem: The machine can only go forward.
The book's loosely connected three parts get far more complex (and outlandish) from there. They involve, among much else, a tribe in deepest Africa with the power to open tunnels in time, the dashing hero of a future war and a number of real-life characters (including Jules Verne, the Elephant Man, Bram Stoker and Wells himself).
Palmas' book is baggy, and its chatty, omniscient narrator is a little too prone to digression. An editorial trim might have helped. Nonetheless, Palmas writes with panache and good humor, and he's cooked up a crackerjack story.
Trending on seattletimes.com
Most viewed photo galleries
The Morning Memo
The Morning Memo jump starts your day with weather, traffic and news
Autos news and research
Your Opinion Matters
Take our survey and enter to win $100. Enter Now!