Saturday, May 16, 2020

Book Review: 'The Reefs of Time: Part One of the "Out of Time" Sequence (The Chaos Chronicles Book 5)' by Jeffrey A. Carver

The Reefs of Time by Jeffrey A. Carver

A magical science fiction journey!

Massachusetts author Jeffrey Carver is a highly respected master of the science fiction genre. His impressive output to date includes THE STAR RIGGER UNIVERSE series of six novels, the two NOVELS OF THE STARSTREAM series, four standalone novels, and this excellent series – THE CHAOS CHRONICLES, of which THE REEFS OF TIME is Book 5 (in tandem with Book 6 THE CRUCIBLE OF TIME). In addition to writing successful sci-fi novels, Jeffrey hosted the television series Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing for middle school classrooms to teach youngsters how to turn ideas into stories, and now that program is computer based and available gratis to those who wish to become writers. Jeffrey and his family live outside Boston.

One of the traits that sets Jeffry’s work apart from most sci-fi authors is his attention to detail, a factor that makes even his most incredulous ideas accessible and even visual. The tenor of this novel is set in the Prologue; ‘A river of light, a ribbon of tortured space, the starstream was a new feature in the galaxy by any cosmological standard. A mere human-century old, it had been created by Humanity and Humanity’s galactic friends, or perhaps not so much created as jiggered into being. It was sentient tinkering that had triggered the fusion of three cosmological objects: two black holes and one cosmic hyperstring. The hyperstring, a longline flaw in space-time, was by good fortune already anchored at one end by the star-gobbling black hole at the center of the galaxy. It was the other end that was the object of Humanity’s engineering, which was to trap it like a dinosaur in tar in the black hole left by the collapse of a star called Betelguese…’

This degree of insight and philosophical overtones married with a superb story with fine characters is a signature trait for Jeffrey. The plot of this inception of his OUT OF TIME duology follows: ‘The starstream is beautiful. But beauty turns deadly when an ancient AI bent on destruction uses it to travel uptime, to our near-future. The Mindaru are dead. Or so exiled-Earthman John Bandicut and his alien companions believe, when they return to Shipworld after saving the Orion Nebula and countless inhabited worlds. But now another horde from this ancient and malicious AI colony is swarming toward the present from its birthplace deep in the past. Their opening: a temporal disturbance in the starstream, a hyperspatial thoroughfare used by myriad civilizations. The disturbance emanates from the planetary defenses of nearby Karellia, whose people know nothing of the starstream or the galaxy-threatening Mindaru. Only Bandicut and his friends have the knowledge and experience to act. But several of Bandicut’s company have gone missing. Bandicut and Li-Jared must team with the pandimensional Ruall and her gokat—the oddest aliens Bandicut has met since the shadow-people—and journey to Karellia to find a way to cut off the timestream. Separated from the others, Ik meets another human of Earth—a former lover of Bandicut’s!—and embarks with her on a perilous mission far back into deep time, seeking a way to stop the Mindaru at their source. They must thread a maze of impossible decisions. Can they tap the wisdom of the alien yaantel, known to the humans as the translator, to help them through?’

Writing of this quality is rare today – science fiction molded into credible possibilities. For full impact, read the entire CHAOS CHRONICLES series – a perfect way to enjoy the present confinement! Highly recommended.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.