ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE WITH MAX MERRIWELL
Author: Dan Simmons
Subterranean Press, Eos/HarperCollins / 272 pages / May 2002
Fluff. I might as well get the word out now, because it’s going to come out sooner or later. Okay, Adventures In Time And Space With Max Merriwell is pretty much fluff. It’s also more mystery than science fiction. Oh, it’s got a touch of romance, too. And, despite some speculation on time paradox and multiple dimensions, it’s far from hard scifi. Whew! Glad I got that off my chest!
But, wait! Does that make Adventures In Time And Space With Max Merriwell a bad read? Hardly. Pat Murphy’s latest novel is the next best thing to being on the cruise ship the books characters get to sail around on. Everyone needs some pure escapism now and then, and this is an entertaining example.
Our heroine Susan Galina and her best friend Pat — Pat Murphy, that is — are off on a Caribbean cruise to take a break from the stress of their daily lives. Susan is out of work and just out of a marriage, so she’s more than ready for a self-indulgent experience. Her friend Pat, on the other hand, is always up for any kind of experience. Neither of them has any idea what they’re really getting into on this voyage.
Susan’s favourite author, Max Merriwell, and his writing workshops are the highlight of this cruise. Max’s wild imagination should be a guarantee of a lively time, no matter what the circumstances. Maybe Max and his imagination are not the best baggage to carry into the Bermuda Triangle. From one mysterious appearance, the situation multiplies and reproduces until no one is certain just who is on the ship, or what threat these others may present. One passenger is missing already. They think.
Murphy has a flair for description that brings every aspect of the setting vividly into focus. The old ship, her ports-of-call, her strange passengers and crew, and the other creatures that may be on board come to life like an atmosphere around the reader. (If you’ve ever had the good fortune to go on a cruise, Adventures In Time And Space With Max Merriwell is going to make you hunger to set sail again. Trust me. If you haven’t, you may well find yourself make reservations.) As the mists and strong winds swirl around and past the Odyssey, you can feel a bit of a chill in your comfy chair.
So, get ready for your own adventure with Max Merriwell and be ready for anything. Be prepared for your notion of reality to be folded, spindled, and mutilated. And be prepared to enjoy the shock to your senses. Sit back and relax. Or have a Flaming Rum Monkey and relax until you regain consciousness.