I just got back from almost a week in Chicago attending the Science Fiction and Fantasy WorldCon better known this year as ChiCon7. There were lots of wonderful authors, fans, editors, and publicists having a ball, more food than should be allowed, and over 870 seminars and events including the Hugo Awards ceremony. If you are a science fiction fact and fantasy lover, this is something you should attend at least once in your lifetime. You never know what you might find or who you might meet. For instance, I ran into David Brin and Myke Cole, both authors, saw a movie called "Pig" (not to be confused with the book I recently read) and got a signed movie poster for it, and I learned more about writing, publishing, and reviewing. If you want to know more about it or about future WorldCons, post a comment and I will get back to you.
One of the big themes in Science Fiction and in Fantasy is time travel and I must admit it is one of my favorite themes as well. Today's choice is a boy meets girl sort of time travel and the setting is interesting.
by John A. Heldt
Publisher John A. Heldt
Length 290 pages
In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
About the Book:
Joel and his college buddy are enjoying a few days of fun prior to buckling down for senior year finals. Avoiding a road construction delay puts them on a different road where Joel, a geology student, glimpses a sign for an old mine. Unable to resist, he explores the boarded up mine, after breaking through several boards. But a chance meeting with a rattle snake leading to a sharp rap with his head on a low beam leaves him unconscious. When he comes to and stumbles out of the mine he finds himself in 1941. Joel travels from Montana back to his home city of Seattle by hopping trains. Being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing by saving a young man from a beating, gets Joel set up in his new found life of work, parties, riches, and love. Struck by the beauty of an engaged young woman, Joel sets his mind to winning her love, though in the end he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Time travel in this story is a short jump back, though far enough that Joel doesn't fit yet not so far back that he doesn't have knowledge of the time. In this respect, Heldt chose the time and place of his novel quite well. To have Joel travel from Montana, where his accidental departure from the present took place, back to his home town of Seattle, was inspired. Those of us who have lived decades in the same place know how things change so much yet the bones of the town stay the same. This helps ground the main character in something familiar as he makes his way through the unfamiliar. Having Joel rescue a young man of rather high station was an interesting plot point which felt rather contrived but Joel himself was of similar station and this avoids having the main character out of place in too many ways.
Ginny was a good, solid character but the rest of the cast was slightly weak. Joel tended to be overly selfish and Grace, his love interest, understandable though weak. Heldt tells, rather than shows, Joel's witty, funny nature.
The beginning of the novel seems a little choppy, though it smooths out quickly. It is a comfortable read, one which could accompany you to the beach or on a short drive. The novel could use a few more challenge / resolution plot points but this is a pleasant enough read, one that many will find quite enjoyable.
This is a light romance with some drinking, some mentions of sex without graphic scenes and very little improper language.