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Book Review: Out of Time by Patrick G Cox

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I must admit to a wee bit of trepidation in taking up Patrick G Cox’s novel Out of Time. That’s not because I don’t know the writer, but because it is a novel that involves time travel. For reasons that don’t quite seem obvious to me, I have never liked the genre – whether in the written, TV or movie form. It is a hard genre to do well and very few manage it.

I am happy to report that Mr Cox has managed to pull it off. While it is an integral part of the plot — the main characters are from the early 19th century — time travel is not overwhelming in the unwrapping of events. The manner in which the three men end up on a space ship travelling between solar systems is explained in enough detail to make it plausible but never becomes turgid. Despite the lack of long-winded explanation, the reason for the time flux is quite plausible and takes into account elements of chaos theory.

The novel has a very strong space opera feel to it, whether one thinks of the classic role-playing game Traveller or the Babylon 5 series. There is a strong Bab 5 feel to this whole novel without it being fan-fiction or too derivative.

There is a nice storyline of three Navy men from the 19th century ending up on a battleship in mid-space 400 years later as they head off to war. Their expertise and creative thinking have a great positive effect on the crew and indeed the whole fleet. I won’t say more lest I ruin the plot.

There are nice touches: an interesting alien race, bureaucrats meddling into affairs that should not be. The politics of the current modern world are taken to worlds anew, as is some of its dubious morality.

This might be a first novel for Mr Cox, but on the strength of this book the man should get a book deal with a major publisher. A new sci-fi talent is there for the reading; why not take a chance and give him a try?

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