True Path (Timesplash, #2)
Graham Storrs

The biggest timesplash ever. An orgy of destruction. A new American revolution.

It’s 2066 and Sandra has kept a low profile for 16 years, working as a tech in a quiet British university, hoping her past would never catch up with her. But it has.

When Jay hears Sandra has been kidnapped, he drops everything and goes to the U.S. to find her. But Sandra’s kidnapper is not an ordinary criminal. He’s America’s most-wanted terrorist a man driven to to free his country from religious oppression at any cost. Sandra, still suffering from the fallout of earlier timesplashes, refuses to help create the biggest timesplash ever, which would unleash a wave of destruction that the rebels hope will kickstart a new American revolution.

When Cara, Sandra’s teenage daughter, is taken by one of the many factions on the ground in Washington D.C., Sandra’s resolve is shaken, and Jay is forced into a race against time to stop the deaths of millions or save Sandra and her daughter.

Sandra and Jay must ultimately decide between what is right for them and what is right for all in this thrilling continuation of the Timesplash series.

True Path (Timesplash, #2) book cover

“There had been good times, innocent times … Well, maybe not good, or innocent, but better than this.”

Superbly written, we are plunged headlong into a jump from the opening pages. I loved the disparity here, the old tech, scrounged parts and dodgy suits cobbled together by desperate people. A world away from splashparties, from those screaming, adoring crowds, the fun and the highs and the music and lights that added a buzz to the trip and made it fun and wild. We’re left instead with the danger, the fanaticism and hopelessness and the splashing for a cause, rather than a thrill.

This isn’t exactly new, of course, the parties were dying down before this novel begins. But seeing the technology used still, to do a similar thing for a different reason is a very powerful opener, and firmly propels us back into the future where splashback is a very real threat.

“I am a representative of the European Union and I insist on being treated with appropriate respect.” Which Jay thought sounded a lot better than, “I’m just a police officer of no particular status who got sent here against his will and who would very much like to be somewhere else before the Apocalypse starts.”

One thing Storrs does superbly is fling us around emotionally. We have this great charged atmosphere with the splash in the opening chapter. We’re learning about what Sandra’s doing at the start of chapter 3 when everything goes mad and before we’re told anything else, we’re back in the calm of jay’s office and his own departmental troubles. “Show, don’t tell” is something you often hear bandied about, and this is incredibly well managed too. Cara is introduced rather breathtakingly, and as the story unfolds her background comes up, usually in passing thoughts, which serve to solidify and cement our understanding of her upbringing and background. It’s very neatly done because, even though we follow her and jay for half the story, we’re still getting this great influx of information about Sandra: how she’s been living, thinking, feeling. It comes through almost by osmosis, feeling incidental to the story and yet enriches everything else too.

“I thought you were the Feds,” Sandra said. “What, and you always shoot policemen on sight? I thought you’d got over that.”

There’s also plenty of these little amusing nuggets, especially when Jay and Sandra get together. They break the tension, but also bring home the Humanity of the players, reminding us that there are things worth fighting for amongst the danger and terror of massive destruction. It also gives you a sense of achievement, the fact that these characters have been coming to a point of convergence all the way through the book and are now together. The build-up, weaving in and out of their stories, ramps up the tension and when it all meshes and our heroes are trying to make their escape, the barbs and jibes and attitude all serve to clue us into the fact that, although Sandra and jay work well together, there’s also a lot of history there, and much that has been left unsaid.

What else? I love Storrs’ realism. The way in which Cara thinks about her mum “doing too many drugs in the ’Forties”, that sort of little detail locks you into her place and time and really convinces you that it’s really her history, although it is of course our future. The technology is great; time travel is of course a big one, but even using the body’s natural electromagnetic field for commplant communication is pretty cool and just thrown in there as if it’s nothing.

And finally, because I’m running out of steam, I just want to comment on the fact that things feel so … so real. Vividly and believably real. Jay and Sandra’s relationship in the final chapter is positively scary, because it’s so utterly Human and so very, very complicated and powerful and confusing. There’s been so much between them and they’ve got their own lives to lead now, but there’s still this great connection. There’s history. There’s Cara. A happy ending? There’s always a string attached. Not everyone can have everything they want, and it is this that makes the climax of this novel stand out.

If you have yet to read Timesplash, you’re missing out big time. Both books are reasonably priced and some of the best writing I’ve read this century. Why are you still reading this? GO read Graham Storrs!

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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