Thirty-three years from today, a beautiful young artist will take a job at the MacLean Toy Company. She will start paying off her student loan. She will fall in love, and she will begin to travel through time.
When the employees of a toy company uncover a dusty and oddly wired mechanical monkey that enables them to travel through time, one of their team witnesses a terrible truth and spirals into madness. His companions are compelled to track him through an increasingly dangerous space-time continuum, where their efforts are sabotaged by a mysterious stranger from the distant region of Zero Time.
They must act now, but they feel transfixed by questions. In the quest to save their friend, will they too fall prey to the force that has driven him insane? What is the true nature of the entity that they sense lurking in the continuum? And finally, does the killer who hunts them also hold the key to their salvation?
Although they can travel through time, time itself is running out . . . .
(To get your own print or ebook copy of Zero Time, order it from your local bookstore, or click on the following links: Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. If you don’t like Amazon, my novel can also be purchased from my page on the Createspace website.)
This review can be found on Amazon.com.
In the end, the author has done something really clever and disturbing: He has woven a web of time transit with a malevolent entity sitting in its center, waiting for the souls of time travelers to be caught in its strands – with causality paradoxes and butterfly effects, a clockwork monkey of evil appearance, time-crossed lovers, and a soupçon of physics and philosophy to flavor it nicely.
What emerges when you reach the end (but not until then) is a thoroughly twisted and enjoyable novel that succeeds in challenging the usual either-or choices of time travel.
I’m glad it’s fiction. And I’m glad I read it.
This review is posted on Goodreads.com.
This is a great SciFi novel about time travel and mysterious doings. The conundrum of time travel is excellently dealt with, and the added philosophical depth of the looking threat that permeates the book is both titillating and frightening. The characters are well-written, the pacing is excellent, and the plot is both fantastic and believable. Loved it.
The following is an excerpt from Part Two of the novel:
The Toy Company was not a large building, but it was large enough to have its own semi-secretive crannies where Duncan MacLean had stored away a myriad of items. After Duncan died, little of the stock had been cleared out, and it was apparent that whoever had been in charge of the cleanup had not been motivated to complete the task.
Before getting down to the job for which they’d been hired, the team had removed a fair bit of junk from the warehouse. A cot that they found and dragged out to the back alley caused Spencer to grow misty-eyed. Dust-covered and moldy, it had been where his father slept when the Company was struggling financially. In the time that followed, Brandon and Spencer had spent hours poking through the labyrinth of crowded shelves—both for different reasons. Brandon was simply curious, but Spencer was searching for clues that would help him better understand the father he never knew, the man who had died only a short while before his birth. Spencer was not entirely cognizant of its importance, but this quest was a guiding principle of his life. Jana, who had an interest in studying Spencer’s behaviour, understood this aspect of his personality better than he did.
While Brandon searched through the cobwebbed memories of the warehouse, Jana, Todd, and Colby remained in the conference room. Colby sat semi-reclined in an office chair, manipulating the various aspects of an interactive product schematic. His feet were propped up on the conference room table. Across the table from Colby, Jana had an electronic tablet propped on her knees and sketched the design for a new idea that she hoped Spencer would love.
Todd, normally the most focused of the group, spent the time attempting to balance a sharpened pencil on its tip. Earlier that morning, he had discovered it under a shelf in the warehouse, and he seemed fascinated by the anachronism. He leaned forward in a chair with his eyes on the same level as the tabletop, and every time the pencil fell and rolled on the table, he jerked back as if in surprise. As weird as he was, Jana had grown fond of Todd. On that particular morning, however, her tolerance with his eccentric behaviour was just reaching its breaking point when Colby looked up from his reading and snapped, “Would you just let it sleep?”
Todd blinked, then Jana saw his eyes flick right to deactivate his SpecTacles, and she realized that he had been using its sensors to track some aspect of the pencil’s movement. “This is an artifact from another era, Colby,” he said.
“It’s a freakin’ pencil.”
“Apparently, it’s also something that challenges limited imaginations.”
“Hey, Todd. Screw off.”
Jana flared, “Jesus, Colby.”
Nonplussed, Todd calmly removed his glasses and began cleaning them. Finally, he responded, “Once again, I am diminished by your superior intellect and rapier-sharp wit.”
Colby pointed a finger, “Oh, I’ll give you rapier-sharp wit.” When Todd regarded him with a raised eyebrow, Colby conceded, “Okay, that didn’t make sense, but still, Todd, screw off.”
Jana sighed and asked Colby, “Aren’t you getting a little old for that façade?”
“I don’t get you.”
Todd interjected, “Façade…it means having a false front, reminiscent of a mask.”
Colby leaned toward him, resting his arms on the table, “There will be so much suffering, Todd. So much pain.”
Todd chuckled quietly.
“No, really, Colby. That whole West Coast Neo-Turley, baked-brain persona. Do the girls actually shine at that?”
He shrugged, “I get some light,” then followed with, “So what approach did Spencer use?”
In imitation of Colby, Jana leaned forward, arms upon the table, and said, “So much suffering, Colby. So much pain.” She heard Todd snicker.
“Seriously,” Colby said, “you’re wasting your time with that guy,” and he tapped his chest mouthing the words: Pick me.
At that moment, two things occurred simultaneously; Jana retorted with a silently mouthed: Never happen, just as Todd whistled and flipped his hand in the air—as if throwing an imaginary penalty flag.
Seeing the gesture, Colby barked a laugh, “Did you really just use a sports reference?”
It was then that Brandon returned to the conference room.
He was grey with dust, and a dark mark spread across his forehead, as though he’d wiped away sweat with a dirty hand. An unusual expression of satisfaction lit his features. Within his arms, he carried a box of thick cardboard wrapped round and round with duct tape.
“Anyone got a knife?”
“What’ve you got?” asked Spencer, who was just then entering the conference room. He stopped by Brandon, and Jana had to grin at how much the two men looked like brothers.
Brandon shrugged, “I don’t know, but it’s done up like Ilium.” He placed the package upon the conference table then set to work stripping off the layers of tape. After several moments, he folded back the lids and looked inside. He glanced up at Spencer, the expression on his face quizzical. “It’s a toy.”
Colby set the schematic down on the table and commented sardonically, “A toy? That’s unexpected.”
“It’s got some weird….” Brandon carefully withdrew it from the box, setting it on the table before them. Everyone gathered around.
* * *
Spirals…. As evidenced by the image on the cover, the concept of the spiral is a significant motif within the novel. Whatever its manifestation, all the characters experience it when they move through the Toy into the temporal flux of the continuum. Jana sees time as a funnel cloud with spinning strands of DNA. To Spencer, it is a pinwheel galaxy with stars trailing light.
In the first chapter of the novel, the character Colby takes note of the fossils embedded in the tyndall stone façade of the Natural History Museum. I placed these fossils within the story to emphasize the singular importance of Time to the characters and events of the narrative. It was also my intention, however, to have the fossils work symbolically. As the ancient shells curl in upon themselves, they represent the integrated nature of concurrent time – how all things exist as one and have a mutual effect on one another.
This close-up of the Egyptian hieroglyphs (from the British Museum) seems appropriate for the back cover for two reasons. The first is obvious–it captures the same sense of antiquity that the fossils do. But I liked the idea that it pictured a succession of people passing through a portal, something like the research team in Zero Time as they travel through the space/time continuum. (To me, the figure standing in the portal resembles Anubis, which makes it even more appropriate to the story.)