Title: Worlds Enough & Time
Write Way / 438 pages / 1998
Gamers come out and play; I have something for you. Teens, “tweens,” and anyone too young to be worried about choosing a major — this “bud’s” for you, too. Alas, you won’t be able to appreciate that little, inside joke until you’re inside the covers of For The Time Being. All right, even then it’s not a side-splitter, but you will understand.
Meet the “Pubbers”: ten grad students with more brains than your average physics professors and more time on their hands than is really healthy. Why else would they spend so much of it on their own, homemade virtual reality role-playing games? And what other reason could there be to wander the steam tunnels beneath the campus?
As For The Time Being opens, the group is about to spend it’s last night beneath the streets. The last night for a long time… or maybe just a short time, depending on your definition of time. Because the Pubbers are about to be snatched from the safe, if not quite sane, existence. Next stop, many light years away, on a planet they dub “Hairiesville.”
On an unknown planet, surrounded by beings straight from a B-Movie festival, now more than 50 years into the future, what is a gang of geniuses supposed to do? Easy answer: build a time machine. (If you said anything other than build a time machine, the Dread Lord takes from you all magical powers.) But, what they don’t know is how desperately the aliens want the time machine, also. Or just how far they are willing to go to get it.
DesJardin has constructed a world where even the colour of sunlight is foreign to us. The creatures that inhabit this world, and, especially, their unique and sexless method of procreation, make for a place easy to envision, but next to impossible to believe could exist. Just keep telling yourself it’s only a fantasy…
Let the procreation comment clue you in. Make no mistake; despite abundant violence and the occasional profanity that wouldn’t even be bleeped in prime time, this novel proclaims “young adult” at every opportunity. It’s safe fare for any child old enough to buy their own books. It’s a bit of community feeling for those immersed in RPG. If you’re looking for gritty realism and more adult situations, it’s not going to give it to you.
For The Time Being is not literary science fiction or fantasy, but it isn’t pretending to be. Deep, searching characterizations are the province of Morrow, Gotlieb, and McAuley. Tense, harrowing situations arrive with Reeves-Stevens or Grant on the spine. This novel is what it sets out to be — a wild adventure with a generous portion of play thrown in.
Not every novel has to be The Forever War and not every author is looking to smoke a pipe and sport leather patches on their elbows. (Don’t follow Joe around at conventions; he’s not a blazer wearer and he might bite you just on principle.) And, because every reader needs to unfurrow their brow once in a while, there is more than enough room for books with one primary goal: to entertain. Fun is reason enough.