Time travel as a sci-fi trope is pretty haggard by this point. I got particularly tired of the various Star Trek series attempts at doing interesting things with it, but they aren’t the only culprit. So when I see a book whose central plot line relies on it, I’m skeptical. Enter Borrowed TIme by Keith Hughes.
First, let’s get the science-y bits out of the way. The way that time travel works in this universe, essentially using an app built in to a PDA to harmonize you to a future or past universe’s resonance, seems a little wonky. But then so does slingshotting around the sun or a nuclear powered DeLorean. The interesting twist in this particular tale is the farther forward or back you go, the shorter your stay can be, thus the title.
The requisite dramatic tension is supplied by the men with guns and power that are after the PDA. Very Bad Men want what Relevant has and intend to do Very Bad Things with it. They’re willing to do anything they can to get it and Relevant needs to think fast and use every skill at his disposal in addition to taking advantage of time hopping to get and keep the upper hand. It moves very quickly and kept me anticipating the next chapter.
What’s this story really about though? Is it just a good read or is there more to it? (If you want to honk a writer off, ask them that question.) Not to be corny, as the story never falls in to it that I notice, but it’s really about making the best use of time that you have with the people in your life. That’s reflected in Relevant’s relationship with the professor that invented the device as well as in his failed relationships. Lacking a time machine it’s best for us all to remember that we’re all on borrowed time.
I think this story could stand to be fleshed out a bit. I’d like to get to know the professor and Relevant a little better. I’d also like the Very Bad Men to be fleshed out a little. As it stands they’re kind of two dimensional. It works in the framework of a fast paced sci-fi thriller novella, but I’m a sucker for a well written, complex bad guy. Overall, it’s that that keeps this from being the five star book that this could be. This book is well wroth the price of admission though, and I hope you check it out!