Someone in Time – Jonathan Strahan (editor)

Self confessed romantiphobe here. So why did I put my hand up to read a romance anthology? In my defence, there’s time travel, one of my very favourite things to read about and do. Shh! You’re not supposed to mention that bit.

Also, there are contributions by two of my favourite authors, Alix E. Harrow and Seanan McGuire, so it was kind of inevitable that this book would find its way to me in every timeline.

Roadside Attraction by Alix E. Harrow

When Floyd approaches the pillar of sandstone covered in graffiti, he’s certain he knows what he’s searching for. 

“Did you find your destiny?” 

The Past Life Reconstruction Service by Zen Cho 

Rui is using the Past Life Reconstruction Service because he’s seeking inspiration. 

“Your dream won’t affect anyone or anything else. The most it can do is change the world inside you.” 

First Aid by Seanan McGuire 

Taylor has been preparing for her one way trip to Elizabethan England for years. 

There was no going back. There never had been. 

I Remember Satellites by Sarah Gailey

When you work for the Agency, a short straw trip means you’re not coming back. 

Everybody draws the short straw in the end. 

The Golden Hour by Jeffrey Ford 

Mr Russell is trying to write his novel when he meets the time traveller. 

“Past or future?” I asked.
“Where the clues lead, young man. Where else?” 

The Lichens by Nina Allan 

There’s something important in the past that’s not accessible in Josephine’s time. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here fantasising about the idea of books being able to be transported to the past. 

So you know about lichens?

Kronia by Elizabeth Hand 

So many fleeting moments, finding one another over the course of lifetimes. 

Unrecognized: I never knew you.

Bergamot and Vetiver by Lavanya Lakshminarayan 

To save the past, this time traveller is willing to destroy their future. 

“To thirst is to be alive, but to devour is to be monstrous.” 

The Difference Between Love and Time by Catherynne M. Valente 

Loving the space/time continuum can be complicated. 

Be my wife forever, limited puddle-being. 

Unbashed, Or: Jackson, Whose Cowardice Tore a Hole in the Chronoverse by Sam J. Miller 

It all comes back to this moment. 

“Walk me home?” 

Romance: Historical by Rowan Coleman 

Communicating through books is probably the most romantic thing ever. 

Beth steadied herself; after all she had spent her whole life in training for this moment, preparing unreservedly to believe in the impossible.

The Place of All the Souls by Margo Lanagan

In that realm, they’re perfect. In this one, they’re happily married … but not to one another. 

Whatever came of the discovery, there was at least a moment’s peace to be enjoyed, now that she knew. 

Timed Obsolescence by Sameem Siddiqui

Two time travellers meet throughout time. 

“Was discovering random historical factoids what drew you into this line of work?” 

A Letter to Merlin by Theodora Goss 

Guinevere loves Arthur in every lifetime. 

“You’re going to be dead in twenty-four hours. Would you like to save the world?” 

Dead Poets by Carrie Vaughn 

The love of poems and poets. 

The study of literature is the process of continually falling in love with dead people. 

Time Gypsy by Ellen Klages 

Sara Baxter Clarke has been Dr. McCullough’s hero since she was a child. 

“I’m offering you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

I have four favourite reads in this anthology: the two I was here for in the first place (no big surprise there) and two by authors who were new to me. 

Rowan Coleman’s story made me tear up. It was also the only story that made me interrupt the reader sitting beside me (who was partway through a chapter of the book they were reading), declaring that they need to read this right now. In case you’re wondering, I was forgiven; they loved it as much as I did. It’s just such a beautiful story.

Ellen Klages’ story, where heroes can live up to your expectations, had me railing against injustice even as I was feeling all mushy about the growing love between the protagonists.

The bottom line? If a romantiphobe can find so much to love about this anthology, then the rest of you are in for a treat.

Content warnings include mention of abortion, death by suicide, domestic abuse, homophobia, miscarriage and sexual assault. Readers with emetophobia may have trouble with a few sentences.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Solaris, an imprint of Rebellion Publishing, for the opportunity to read this anthology.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Anthology of inclusive tales of people through time looking for one another and for ways for the world to be better.

Even time travel can’t unravel love.

Time travel is a way for writers to play with history and imagine different futures – for better, or worse.

When romance is thrown into the mix, time travel becomes a passionate tool, or heart-breaking weapon. A time agent in the 22nd century puts their whole mission at risk when they fall in love with the wrong person. No matter which part of history a man visits, he cannot not escape his ex. A woman is desperately in love with the space/time continuum, but it doesn’t love her back. As time passes and falls apart, a time traveller must say goodbye to their soulmate.

With stories from best-selling and award-winning authors such as Seanan McGuire, Alix E. Harrow and Nina Allan, this anthology gives a taste for the rich treasure trove of stories we can imagine with love, loss and reunion across time and space. 

Including stories by: Alix E. Harrow, Zen Cho, Seanan McGuire, Sarah Gailey, Jeffrey Ford, Nina Allan, Elizabeth Hand, Lavanya Lakshminarayan, Catherynne M. Valente, Sam J. Miller, Rowan Coleman, Margo Lanagan, Sameem Siddiqui, Theodora Goss, Carrie Vaughn, Ellen Klages.

The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody – Kate Gilby Smith

Spoilers Ahead! (marked in purple)

It’s always just been Alex and her Uncle Henry. That is, if you don’t count the consistent groups of strangers who have been trying to sneak a peek at Alex her entire life. There are actual coaches full of them. But, hey, maybe this is normal. It’s not like Alex has any friends to compare notes with.

Until she meets Jasper on her twelfth birthday. We love Jasper, although we don’t really know a lot about him for the longest time.

For a boy who loved asking other people questions, he was an expert at avoiding them himself.

We do know he’s a sweetheart, though, and he’s a really good best (and first) friend to have. We adore him, even after he suddenly disappears before Alex’s eyes. Fortunately, Alex likes Jasper as much as we do so she’s determined to find him. No matter what.

‘And this time I don’t think logic is the answer.’

I spent the entire book trying to figure out what I could possibly say about it that didn’t give away the whole time travel component, which is one of my all time favourite things to read about. I needn’t have worried; one look at the book’s blurb and I discovered that what I thought was a secret is well and truly out of the bag. I probably would have read this book sooner had I known. All I had to go by when I decided this was the book for me was the title and Thy Bui’s incredible cover illustration.

Speaking of design, something so simple yet so appropriate accompanied the chapter titles. Remember how I mentioned the literal coaches full of people who want to catch a glimpse of Alex? A coach starts appearing in the first chapter and slowly makes its way across the page, chapter by chapter. Brilliant!

Besides loving Alex and Jasper, I also wanted to get to know Uncle Henry, whose ideas on learning were all I needed to know to want to hang out with him forever. I also really liked Gerty, who Alex meets when she’s searching for her missing friend.

I adored the way time travel is explored in this book. There were a couple of time travel related head-scratchers, though. The Laws of Time all made sense to me but I had trouble believing, based on my extensive time travel experience with Marty McFly, that a Time Tourist hadn’t inadvertently rewritten history by now. Although, if Timeless is to be taken as time travel gospel, then maybe only the people personally involved in the rewrite would remember how things used to play out.

The time travel quandary that remains for me is why the bazillion Time Tourists who not so secretly spied on Alex as she was growing up didn’t immediately recognise her in the future. Sure, it’s not like she was expected to show up there unannounced and oftentimes we don’t recognise the obvious right before our very eyes when we don’t expect them to be there, but … someone should have been pointing at her and whispering to the person next to them, ‘Hey, look! Doesn’t that girl look like Alex when she was young?’

I figured out fairly early on who future Alex was going to be and why she became famous. If kid me had read this book, though, it would have been your job to pick me up off the floor once I’d made it to the reveal.

Although the time travel is absolutely wonderful and it made me want to do it even more, my take away from this book is going to be the friendship between Alex and Jasper. It made me feel all warm and squishy inside. In a good way.

‘Never underestimate the power of a best friend. A friend who loves you for who you are, who believes in the person you will become even when you don’t. Who believes you are stronger, smarter, better than you believe yourself to be. A friend who can put you in your place when you need it. More than talent, more than success, friendship is what matters most.’

Book in a book: Jasper gives Alex a copy of The Secret Garden, one of the many reasons I loved him.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

On the day Alex was born, crowds surrounded the hospital. On her first day of school, people spied from the gates. And recently, strangers came to watch her perform in her school play … as the llama.

But why? Alex has always been a nobody.

Then a mysterious boy named Jasper starts at school and he alone seems to know the answer. But before he can tell Alex, he disappears … into the future. Can Alex brave traveling into the future to discover what’s happened to him and to unravel the secret of her own astonishing destiny … before time runs out?