No one could ever accuse AG Riddle of writing stories crammed with highly detailed, hard science. Instead he’s perfected a form of 21st century techno-thriller – following in the footsteps of Michael Crichton – where a strand of scientific speculation provides a launch pad for a fast-paced adventure into the unknown. This approach typically takes Riddle into apocalyptic, disaster movie territory via plague, pandemic, alien invasion, cosmic catastrophe and so forth, but Lost In Time is a little different…
This is an altogether more intimate story, woven around a young woman who loses her parents in initially tragic and then mind-bending, bizarre circumstances. There’s a murder mystery to solve, an inventive form of interdimensional travel which relies on quantum entanglement, and a solid slice of personal redemption.
Riddle’s style is to write short, snappy chapters which accelerate you through the story. He’s a master illusionist who keeps us readers fixated on the flashy action in the foreground while the plot gradually tightens in the subtext. As the title suggests, this is one of those time travel tales with plenty of potential for perplexing paradoxes, and I have to applaud his dexterity in resolving a metric tonne of continuity conundrums – without resorting to tedious chapters of exposition. I’m a sucker for any sci-fi which takes us back to reinterpret events from multiple viewpoints, so I hugely enjoyed those moments.
Some of the action sequences dragged for me, however; can’t say I was too engaged with the guys running around in the Triassic, dodging dinosaurs, earth tremors and scorching lava. But hey, this is AG Riddle so there has to be an extinction event going on somewhere.
If this sounds like the plot of a Roland Emmerich movie – well, that’s because it reads a lot like pitch for a Roland Emmerich movie. You’d be forgiven for wondering when Godzilla was going to put in an appearance. In the same vein, the characters are what we might kindly call ‘lightly sketched’ with one or two identifiable traits so you can tell them apart (and predict what their story arc will involve). But there’s not a lot of in-depth complexity to the chaps from central casting.
So I didn’t really connect with the feisty female protagonist – but that didn’t stop me yomping through the pages in the same way I’d happily eat a whole tube of Pringles without pausing to taste the flavour.
Easy to read, frothy, speculative fiction. No, it’s not serious and yes it does get a bit sentimental. But it was a refreshing change to read something with an upbeat, positive outlook – and I suspect I’ll return to this author next time I’m in the mood for something reassuringly frivolous. Just don’t over-think it.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Lost In Time by AG Riddle is available at Amazon
If you love thrilling fiction in short, sharp stabs…
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