Prelude to Eternity: A Romance of the First Time Machine by Brian Stableford
published by Borgo Press, 2009
This novel is mazy, which is appropriate, since its finale takes place in a maze. The central character is Michael Laurel, a young artist, who is in love. It is 1822, but the history known to the characters does not quite tally with our own. Michael is attending a house party at a country house in Yorkshire. The host is the father of Cecilia, with whom Michael is in love. The other guests include a violinist, a mesmerist and the inventor of a time machine.
As the house party gets underway, the various characters discuss time travel at length. None of them seem to completely understand how it could work, but several of them pretend they do. I don’t understand it either, but I doubt that it matters. I understood the characters, sensed their feelings and motivations, and enjoyed the interplay between them. And the book not only made me think, but allowed me to enjoy the process.
There is gentle humour, and there is a lot of thoughtful speculation about the implications of some scientific and pseudoscientific theories. There is clever wordplay, and the plot has a playful feel, as well. However, everything is integrated, nothing is superfluous. Michael, although he becomes wiser by the end, is quite believably a young man in love for the first time. His actions, motivated by love and decency, are also credible, making this a properly enjoyable tale.
Review by Sally Startup