The mark of a really good science fiction collect isn’t that I read it and enjoy it. It’s that my wife reads a number of its stories.
Without a gun to her head.
Not that I have a gun.
Mike Ashley (with whom I’ve had a long review relationship over his Verne and Invasion novels) (I chuckled to myself when I saw it was my old friend again) assembles a goodly number of time travel yarns, dozens of short stories. And what pleasantly surprised me in this collection was the fact that they were all (with the exception of one) extremely good. I’m used to collections being a third bad, a third meh, and a third wow. This one was almost all wow.
There’s a look at little Weena, lost to Wells’ time traveler and recovered (sort of) in his next trip, and the complications bringing her back into Victorian London produces. There are stories of a tribe of Neanderthals who can time travel (as a clan) forward. Even the easy-going stories, where people can casually travel back, show what happens when your romantic rival (whom you bested) goes back and starts undoing your firm and founded marriage.
The thing is, we’ve moved beyond the stories of simply going back, stepping on a bug, and returning to an altered world. These stories look beyond that, advancing the genre into new and wonderfully undiscovered territory. I really enjoyed them.
As did my wife. Injured in her trip (there’s a pun there), she didn’t feel like continuing with her gloomy southern romance. I’d mentioned some of the stories and she’d asked me to mark them so she could read while healing. That night, on our walk, she told me about some of the others she’d nosed into and enjoyed. So, yes, these stories were good enough for the hard-core SF reader and the casually browser, a solid recommendation.
Go ahead and pick this one up. Or go forward in time and watch the movie, either way.