oracne - Victoria Janssen (oracne) wrote,
oracne - Victoria Janssen


Richard Bowes, From the Files of the Time Rangers

In his afterword to the Golden Gryphon edition, Rick Bowes refers to From the Files of the Time Rangers as a mosaic novel, in the vein of "fix-up" novels from the early days of SF publishing, when it was common practice to connect short stories from the same universe with interspersing material and publish it as a novel. I agree with his definition, and weirdly enough the end product, though published in the 21st century, bears a stylistic resemblance to books of Days Gone By. Is it the structure alone, or did he do this intentionally? I suspect the latter.

Part of that is the subject matter. As I mentioned when I first began reading the book, I was reminded of the time travel stories of Poul Anderson and Andre Norton, but with notes of modernity from the modern author. For example, Bowes' novel is more representative of racial and sexual diversity than many Golden Age SF works (though I must note that Andre Norton had a surprisingly wide range of racial diversity, at least, in her YA for the period in which she began writing). Also, like most sf, Bowes' novel comments on and reflects current political worldviews. And finally, there are elements of slipstream. Bowes freely mixes science fictional time travel and alternate histories with (mostly) Greek and Roman mythologies. Lord Apollo rules the Time Rangers, and various gods inhabit humans at critical historical moments. The book's ending is more fantasy than sf and at the same time is a reflection on genre itself.

A very nifty book. I had fun merely watching how he built it, with characters sliding in and out, seemingly unrelated at first, then suddenly crucially bound into certain plotlines, then appearing later in peripheral roles. (It didn't do to get too attached to most of them, but this wasn't that sort of book, anyway.) I'll definitely be thinking about this one for a while.
Tags: books, sf/f

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