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“The Map of Time” by Félix J. Palma

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Translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor. I don’t know how often or how assiduously you have tried to make sense of time-travel conundrums. If, like me, you still struggle with the paradoxes inherent in traveling through time, don’t look to Félix J. Palma’s The Map of Time to help you out. It doesn’t offer solutions, but generally delicious and delightful new possibilities of time travel, starring none other than H.G. Wells, the author of The Time Machine (1895). Imagine Christopher Lloyd’s mad Dr. Emmett Brown frenetically covering all the implications of traveling back and forth in time – but at a more studious pace – but with nary a solution in sight. In fact we end with more questions than answers. And the book is so much more because of it.

 Félix J. Palma wrote The Map of Time in the style of a nineteenth-century adventure story, very apparently admiring the style. The translation serves this purpose well, and never gets in the way. Maybe the time-travel puzzles which constantly pop up, or the occasional authorial intrusions, weigh against the style, but no matter. This is an enjoyable ride,
with wonderful descriptions of Victorian London, a very full biographical treatment of Wells (from which flights of fancy follow), and yes, some actual science fiction. My only quibble is that some characters disappear early and are brought back late in the story, as if by force. I found myself waiting for follow-up treatment of a couple of them, and my wait was in vain.

This book deserves some of the praise it’s received – it’s inventive and fun, and its characters come with full nuancing, but its leisurely treatment (611 pages) and shifting viewpoint bring down its grade.
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