Time and Time Again – Ben Elton
Hello first review of 2016! Well, sort of, I don’t know how much reviewing I’ll be doing during this post, honestly, I just finished this and I just had so many thoughts that I figured I’d write them down. I will sort of review this book though, because seriously, this is a historical, time travel, dystopian novel and the catch line is: If you had one chance to change history, where would you go? What would you do Who would you kill? Seriously? That premise gives me thrills. And the cover is awesome. So, prepare thyselves for word vomit.
Ps, I imagine this word vomit will be a bit spoilery, so here’s River just to warn you:
It’s the 1st of June 1914 and Hugh Stanton, ex-soldier and celebrated adventurer is quite literally the loneliest man on earth. No one he has ever known or loved has been born yet. Perhaps now they never will be.
Stanton knows that a great and terrible war is coming. A collective suicidal madness that will destroy European civilization and bring misery to millions in the century to come. He knows this because, for him, that century is already history.
Somehow he must change that history. He must prevent the war. A war that will begin with a single bullet. But can a single bullet truly corrupt an entire century?
And, if so, could another single bullet save it?
So firstly, lets just take a moment to appreciate the fact that Ben Elton is someone that exists. If you haven’t heard of Ben Elton, he is essentially a genius, he is the reason we have Blackadder, he created The Young Ones plus he writes and his books are usually pretty spesh. I’ve read a couple of them, but they’re usually a lot more light hearted than this one, none of them left me with as many thoughts as this one though.
Basically, this is the story of Hugh Stanton, who loses his family tragically and then gets an invitation to see his old Cambridge professor for Christmas, during his trip to Cambridge, he is told that Isaac Newton (yes that Isaac Newton, the one with the gravity and the apple) had discovered that it was completely possible to time travel provided you were at an exact place at an exact time because of the nature of time not being linear (wibbly wobbly timey wimey as the Doctor says) and time lines crossing, you could, if you were in this place at the right time, cross into another time. This info has been kept by the various masters of Cambridge University, who belong to a group of people who call themselves the Order of Chronos who have been searching for the right person to send to this place at the specified time in the hope that they can travel through time and change the one thing that they collectively need to change.
The story starts in the future of a world that had had world war one, but strangely not world war two (I say strangely because one of many contributing factors to world war two happening was because of the punishments put on Germany post world war one, but also having read the book maybe it wasn’t so strange… Keep reading, this might make more sense further down, that is if you can cope with the nerdiness ahead). Newton’s calculations mean that whoever travels in time will end up in 1914 a few weeks before the events that kick off the First World War, so The Order of Chronos decide that they want Hugh to head to Serbia and prevent the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and then take out the leader of Germany instead to prevent World War One from happening in the first place. Which, when I was reading it, I was like wow. Can you even imagine? WW1 is known as the great war, thousands of young kids were sent to their deaths and it happening lead to ww2 where even more people died, not just at war, but at the hands of genocide. What would life be like if those huge things had never happened? Cleverer people than me would probably find lots of issues with stopping WW1 happening which mean that something equally as terrible would happen. For me though, being a complete history nerd, I found the whole idea of travelling to 1914 and preventing the start of world war one so fascinating. Like, what would happen? How would it have changed the world? Would there still have been a holocaust? Would there still have been crisis in Europe? Would Hiroshima have happened? Even thinking about it now is giving me thrills! Anyway, Hugh soon realises that he is not the only person that has ever been sent back to 1914 by the Order of Chronos, each time they send someone back to change something about history that has already been changed by the person before. There was a war, there wasn’t a war, there was a worse war. Each time something horrific happens and I love this concept! The idea of the butterfly effect really fascinates me, I want more time travel books, I want more what ifs and what would happen instead ofs.
I should probably say a little about the book as well…
I mentioned that I’ve read some Ben Elton before, the majority of Ben Elton books I’ve read and scripts I have seen and shows I’ve watched are humourous, this isn’t a funny book, the premise (I’ve mentioned that a lot) is an interesting one, I can’t get enough of this story, its just filled my brain with so many thoughts, it would make a great film, there were just a few moments that felt rushed, especially towards the end. We spend so long preparing for this trip into the past, then we get there and we’re immersed in this world of nineteen hundreds Europe (I’ve just had a thought, maybe my fascination with time travel is the idea of nostalgia and the grass always being greener? I don’t know. I do know that Back to the Future is my favourite film BECAUSE of this idea of time travel and the nostalgia of yesteryear.) which was like a nerdgasm for the history geek here and then the realisation of whats happened and what’s been happening hits you and I was itching for Hugh and these other agents of Chronos to team up and use their collective knowledge to put the world together for the best possible future and I guess that disappointed me a little.
Anyway, crazy history thoughts aside, sorry this review was so awful. It is a fun book to read, go read it and stuff. Also, I would love some recommendations of other time travel novels if you’ve read any. So, hit me up.