Cover image of "The Continuum," an original take on time travel

Novels about time travel frequently twist themselves into knots about the paradox that comes into play when travelers attempt to change something in the past that might mean they would never have been born. In The Continuum, the first of a series by science fiction newcomer Wendy Nikel, the grandfather paradox never surfaces . . . but somehow it seems that it ought to. The novel is a truly original take on time travel.

A set of rules is in force here

Here’s what you need to know about Wendy Nikel’s universe:

  • The discoverer of time travel, a certain Dr. Wells, has opened the Place in Time Travel Agency, or PITTA.
  • You can only travel back in time to dates that are one or more centuries in the past on precisely the same day, time, and place from which you leave.
  • To return to the present, you press your thumb on a small spherical device called a Wormhole. So, be sure not to lose it! (As I said, this is an original take on time travel.)
  • But you’re not supposed to travel back to key turning points in history. Those are Black Dates. They’re a no-no.
  • The heroine of this novel is young Elise Morley, who is a Retrieval Specialist for PITTA. Her job it is to rescue clients who have disregarded the rules by going to when they shouldn’t or attempting to overstay their time in the past.

Naturally, then, we first encounter Elise on April 9, 1912, in Southampton, England. There, one of the agency’s clients, a spoiled pop star named Marie, is—shudder!—soon to board the Titanic for its maiden voyage. Well, this won’t do, of course. “Dr. Wells is not going to be happy about this.”

The Continuum (Place in Time #1) by Wendy Nikel (2018) 174 pages ★★★★☆

Image of the Titanic on its maiden voyage, a scene central to the story in this original take on time travel
You would not have wanted to be aboard the RMS Titanic on April 15, 2012. Image: Britannica

An amusing and original take on time travel

Enter Allen Theodore Mansfield Reeves III, the privileged young man to whom Marie (from 2012) has unaccountably become engaged . . . in 1912. Elise has felt forced to resort to the extreme measure of tackling the misbehaving client on the gangplank as she starts to enter the ship. But the resourceful Mr. Reeves gets into the act, attempting to rescue his fiancée. And from that awkward scene the future course of the story is set.

Given the lighthearted treatment, you might not be surprised to learn that Elise and Allen both end up . . . in the future. Which you’re not supposed to be able to do! And, to make matters even worse, it turns out that PITTA is not alone in sending people through time.

The Continuum is a pleasant and diverting tale that may be worth an evening or two if you like your science fiction free of grisly monsters, battles in space, and mind-bending ideas.

About the author

Here, in entirety, is what Wendy Nikel writes about herself on her website: “Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published in such places as Analog Science Fiction and FactBeneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature: Futures, Daily Science Fiction, Podcastle, and various ezines and anthologies. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. She is a member of SFWA and editor-in-chief at Flash Fiction Online.”

For more reading

Of the many other time travel novels I’ve read, the best are these:

For more good reading, check out:

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