Deep in the Arizona desert, time travel has been discovered–or at least a way of sending people’s consciousness back into the minds of their past selves from other dimensions. In the middle of this project, time-traveler Sheila Schuler has been murdered, by being forcibly sent back to a past before her birth. Can her fellow travelers manage to rescue her and save their project, amidst government bureaucracy and plots from their own dimension and others?
Mike Murphey’s WASTING TIME is an entertaining science fiction novel with a bright and mischievous sense of humor, and some interesting thoughts about the possibilities and limitations of time travel. It is a sequel, the second in the Physics, Lust and Greed series, but while it is probably preferable to approach this book after having read the first book, Taking Time, it’s not absolutely necessary–the plot threads aren’t too hard to catch up with, and all necessary explanations are handled in the natural course of the book. Still, it’s worth reading the series from the beginning, if only because it’s fun. The scientific premises involved are a little strange, some clearly thrown in for laughs, but with reasonable suspension of disbelief, not impossible in this bizarre universe we inhabit. In their world, time travel occurs between parallel universes, and requires that the traveler project their mind into the consciousness of their past self in another universe, thus allowing them to inform them of future events. Each parallel universe is designated by the theme song of a different TV show, which apparently plays in the mind of each time traveler as they approach–the base universe for these books is the I Love Lucy universe, for example.
There is a limbo in between worlds, presided over by the mysterious Hall Monitor, who presents us with such useful information as the reason our set of universes is being shunned by all the others (many sports-lovers will agree, an egregious sin indeed). Murphey has clearly thought through his premises, even the oddball ones, and does some interesting exploration of their consequences and possibilities. It helps that the quirky playfulness of the book is based on a solid foundation of well-developed characters with fully-fledged personalities, motivations, and human needs. The story’s heroine, the fiercely intelligent and emotionally-defensive Marta Hamilton, is both likeable (in all her incarnations) and interesting, and the growth of her romance with colleague Marshall Grissom is surprisingly tender for all its passion and sexual energy. Sex is handled throughout with playful delight, neither shameful nor snigger-inducing, a pleasant change of pace. Quirky side characters, like Cecil the cat-waxer and owner of Cecil’s Margin Service, wander in and out of the book, adding color and a mischievous tone to the tale. The action is lively and WASTING TIME is never dull for a moment–not even in the middle of a Congressional hearing.
Mike Murphey’s WASTING TIME is a quirky, enjoyable novel with some interesting speculations on the consequences and possibilities of time travel, lightened by a playful sense of humor.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader