Time travel is never straightforward

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor is a time travel novel but written in a light hearted way. It’s easy to read and very funny in places. It’s the first novel in a series and I shall definitely be seeking out subsequent novels. It has, however, to be said at this point that a lot of the ideas and the plot seem identical to that of Connie Willis’ book To Say Nothing of the Dog (review of this book will be posted shortly) and it’s not as cleverly written or as satisfying as that book but given that Ms Willis hasn’t published many books in her time travel series this is a reasonable alternative.

Dr Madeleine Maxwell (Max) is a new historian who is recruited to St Mary’s, an offshoot of an Oxford College. Time travel has been discovered and St Mary’s undertakes excursions into the past for historical purposes – it has been difficult to monetise the activities because they cannot make changes in the past as this results in their immediate obliteration or bring anything back into the present. The historians and technicians who staff the time travel unit at St Mary’s are a bunch of amiable academics and Max fits in well initially. Of course, every trip into the past brings its own challenges and things rarely go smoothly.

Then things start to change. Max becomes aware that some staff members are not quite what they seem and then some key figures are lost in the past changing the character of the unit. It is Max’s role to determine what has happened and to defeat those who are using time travel for their own purposes.

The book moves along quickly and is full of interesting ideas. Max is an excellent companion and her growing romantic relationship is very amusing to watch. This is not a deep book and many of the ideas are not developed very far but it is very enjoyable.

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