So, does anyone remember Michael Crichton’s book Timeline? It was turned into a film with Gerard Butler, before 300? Timeline was about a Bill Gates knockoff whose company has created a time machine… only he’s lost people in the Middle Ages, and recruits a team to go back, find his lost people, and bring them back. This being a Michael Crichton book, the first thing that happens is that the security personnel are killed, leaving only the time period specialists to survive.
Give a similar premise to Chuck Dixon, legendary comic book author and co-creator of the Batman villain Bane, and Dixon turns it into a multi-book series where the SpecOps badasses are the primary leads, and a quarter of the book feels like the team from Predatorhas to fend off the hordes of Mordor.
Also, Dixon doesn’t use anywhere near the number of graphs as the venerable Crichton.
Former army Ranger Dwayne Roenbach has left his last job as security for a billionaire with a temper. But he’s soon recruited by scientist Morris Tauber. He’s lost his sister and two of his colleagues. And he would like Dwayne to go and bring them back. The catch? Tauber’s sister is lost in the Nevada Desert, 100,000 years in the past.
Dwayne is skeptical, but for $10 million, he can be flexible.
It’s 100,000 years in the past, meaning that no humans live in the region. It should only be populated by oversized fauna. And that assumption was their first mistake.
The characters here are all well drawn, and fairly effortlessly at that. Every main character gets a chapter to themselves, and each one is sketched out in only a few paragraphs. Focusing a chapter on each person is a standard formula, akin to introducing the gunfighters in The Magnificent Seven. But Dixon manages to take the formula, and apply it in a unique way that doesn’t make it feel like a formula. The five Ranger shooters and the two Tauber siblings are all smart, likable characters, and a joy to read.
Funny enough, I just counted the main characters, and there are seven of them, so Dixon has hit the magic number.
There are even two bit players in the story who are almost comedy relief, but who have a surprising amount of character.
Dixon has a wonderfully visual writing style. Everything he needs to put on the page are on the page. Extraneous details are fodder for other books. Everything you need to know about the time travel device is spelled out … mostly by the presence of two Iranian nuclear physicists with a penchant for current Vegas performers. When the book goes back in time, we get a very clear picture of the time period. Let’s just say that “nasty, brutish and short” is not the name of a law firm.
As you might have guessed, there aren’t a lot of politics in this one. No one is having debates about modern politics 100,000 years in the past. If you read everything with a political bent, one can certain read politics into it. Like? If you have a problem, and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire a squad of badasses to fix it.
Heh. Yeah. If you’re the type of person to watch an 80s action movie and cry “Toxic masculinity,” then yes, this book would be considered very political. Sane people will just be able to read and enjoy.
And yes, for the record, it is NOT politically correct. At all.
But if this were to have a political element to it, I could sum it up in one Gif.
There is mild language in here–so infrequently used, it might make a film PG-13. There is mention and implications of rape, but nothing on screen. There is plenty of blood, but nothing you haven’t seen in The Lord of the Rings films. There are bodies being blown apart, but nothing in this book is so graphic as to put anyone off.
Why read it?
This book is written in such a nice smooth straightforward style that it’s downright refreshing. There are no Ciceronian sentences that run half a page. Nothing is overly technical, but neither does Dixon talk down to the audience. Everything here is just so well thought out and well reasoned, but nothing is over-technical. I especially enjoyed what they go through to leave no impact on altering the timeline … and have just as good reasoning on when that can go out the window.
This book is “only” 206 pages, but I guarantee you will not feel cheated. At all. It’s awesome.
Who is it for?
If you’re a fan of any media referenced in this review, you’re probably going to enjoy it. It has Larry Correia level gun porn. It has Zulu-level odds. Frankly, it’s just plain fun.
Declan Finn is the author of over 27 published novels, and more short stories than he cares to recall. He as written everything from thrillers, to horror, to urban fantasy, to dystopias and SciFi. Among these are The Pius Trilogy, the Love at First Bite quartet, and the series Saint Tommy, NYPD. He is a three-time Dragon Award finalist, and is working on getting a forth nomination with his latest Saint Tommy novel, Hussar.
He is a fan of Baen books, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and Jim Butcher.