Tom Barren lives in the kind of world science fiction authors have been writing about for years: flying cars, a focus on entertainment, food that doesn’t go bad. It seems like paradise. The problem is he’s a screw-up. His father is a genius, but Tom can’t seem to find himself which leads to a difficult relationship with his brilliant father.
When Tom’s mother dies, his father tries to give him another chance. The great next frontier is time travel, and Tom’s father thinks he can master it. He has trained chrononauts ready to go. Tom’s father adds him to the team as the understudy of the most promising chrononaut. This would be fine. Tom would never get a chance to time travel, but the best chrononaut becomes unable to take the mission. Tom decides to go and ends up in a very wrong place, 2016 in our world. Needless to say there are no flying cars and other amenities. Now Tom has to decide whether he wants to go back or stay in this strange land.
This is a clever story, and Tom is an interesting character. He engages in lots of soul searching about why he has so much trouble. One reason is that he’s not a genius like his father. It’s easy to empathize with Tom. He’s a believable character.
The book is slow starting. Tom spends pages telling us that he made a terrible mistake, taking us into his world, and providing his family background. I found this section much too long, but when he actually gets to time travel and ends in the wrong place, the action picks up.
If you like science fiction and are interested in time travel, this is an amusing book.
I received this book from Penguin for this review.