________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 4 . . . . October 10, 2008


Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait.

K.A. Bedford.
Calgary, AB: Edge Science Fiction, 2008.
324 pp., pbk., $17.95.
ISBN 978-1-894063-42-5.
Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

***½ /4


“If it’s another dead cat,” said Aloysius “Spider” Webb, senior time machine technician, “you’re buying the next round.” Spider was driving the company van, a big fuel cell-powered behemoth, with the words TIME MACHINES REPAIRED WHILE-U-WAIT emblazoned on its side. In the shotgun seat was his coworker, mechanic Charlie Stuart, a young guy, very capable, lost inside a white lab coat at least a size too big for his scrawny frame.

“If it’s another dead cat,” Charlie replied, “I’ll eat my bloody lab coat.”

Spider shot him an amused glance. “I’ll hold you to that.”

The last time Spider and Charlie had been called out to look over a broken machine – yet another Tempo – it turned out that a cat had gotten trapped in the unit’s engine compartment and died. The deceased cat’s bodily fluids had then leaked into the translation engine and complicated things needlessly. Cats had a way of turning up inside broken time machines. They were a royal pain. Spider remembered how the owner freaked out when he was told. “It’s not even my bloody cat!”

In the near future, 20 years from now, time machines are common-place. You can even buy a used machine through the classifieds. With characters carrying names like “Spider” Webb, “Dickhead” McMahon, and Malaria, you suspect early on in the novel that you are in for a wild ride. Set in Australia, the story begins with Spider and his partner responding to a routine call to repair a time machine that has ceased to function. One advantage to being in the time machine repair business is that you can take the machine to the shop, have a couple of weeks to locate the problem and repair it, then deliver it back to the owner a few minutes after picking it up. When they bring this particular machine into the service bay, they discover the problem; there is the corpse of a murdered young woman inside, and from there on the plot gets very thick.

     The Department of Time and Space takes custody of the machine and the corpse and shuts all other investigations down. Our hero, Spider, an ex cop, who left the force under “circumstances,” is curious about the mystery corpse who doesn’t appear in the official records, but he has a problem with whom he can trust. His boss at the repair shop is Dickhead McMahon, another off-the-wall character with an agenda all his own. The woman Spider once had an affair with is Inspector Iris Street in charge of the initial investigation into the murder. They were both constables on the force; he feels resentment for the way he was treated. This affair also helped break up Spider’s marriage to Molly, his ex wife. But now Molly is constantly calling Spider to repair her computer, coffee pot, and even the toilet when it stops talking to her. She doesn’t realize she is constantly in peril as the various forces try to keep Spider in line.

     Things really begin to get complicated when Spider and the other characters start moving through time. He meets older versions of himself and tries to prevent events that have already happened. Time-lines split as scenes are replayed. The story goes back and forth from Spider’s present, to the end of time. He does not know who to trust as various factions battle to control time.

     A sometimes gory science fiction story, blending murder, time-travel, adventure and a cast of interesting characters, this is one tale that keeps the reader guessing until the end. Who will live; who will die? Which version of Spider Webb will still be with us at the end?

     Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait is a fast-moving novel that will appeal to the reader who appreciates complicated plot lines, murder, and amusing dialogue. The “F” word is used on occasion when Spider is under stress.

Highly Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer’s groups and writer’s workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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