Review: Lost Time and Dead Time (D. L. Orton)

“Dead Time” and “Lost Time” are different flavours to the dish that is served in Book 1, “Crossing in Time”. Beautifully written with parallel worlds, time travel and Deb’s usual dose of good quality humour!

"Lost Time" and "Dead Time" by DL Orton.

Lost Time and Dead Time are Books 2 and 3 of DL Orton’s Between Two Evils series.

Lost Time by DL Orton

I’ve already read and reviewed the first book (Crossing in Time) which I thought had some “juicy time travel and gadgetry”

I’m going to review Books 2 and 3 together for 2 reasons – firstly that the first (i.e. second book in the series!) is short, and second, that when it stops the next book picks right up straight where it left off (so in this respect I’d suggest that you only read Lost Time if you have Dead Time ready and waiting for your reading pleasure straight afterwards).

Initial impressions

Lost Time is only 200 pages – much shorter than its predecessor which weighed in at 385 pages. This at first struck me as a good thing – first because I’ve got an ebook (never as good as paper!), but mostly because I was disappointed with the ‘padding’ in the second half of Book 1 and a shorter novel indicates a potential stripping of the fluff. (That said, I’d encourage you to read Deb’s response in the comments in the comments under the original review.)

Dead Time (DL Orton)

I finished my review of Crossing in Time with the comment that judging it was like judging a meal by the way the waitress walks when she brings you the starter. These latter two additions to the series are like the meal which is served on the table next to you in the same high quality restaurant!

Bang bang! Straight away we’re reminded that author D. L. Orton is well read in scifi with a couple of quotes and references to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Space Odyssey – and is able to bring it even when you have a naked man stuck up a tree!

There was also some talk about a shell. I recall a little about this from the previous book, but it was a while since I read it and I wasn’t fully up to speed. I felt that I needed to go back and check, but at the same time by not doing so I was able to share in Diego’s confusion. In fact at one point he even wonders whether his ‘previous’ life in another universe (from Crossing in Time) was a figment of his imagination; a feeling which I could identify with given how long ago I read that novel. Indeed, I must admit that I had some troubles in remembering what ‘the normal’ universe constituted!

Initially I didn’t like Diego. Fair enough, he was found naked and dangling in a tree, but he wallows in self pity – a real grate on my nerves because he’s surrounded by people (at the beginning) who are so delightful. In these sections I felt much more connected to these secondary characters – and was pleased that as in Book 1, chapters are written in first person from the viewpoint not just of the main character, but also of the others (maybe that ‘upgrades’ them from “secondary” characters…?)

The angle

Where Crossing in Time deals a lot with red tape in science, Lost Time and Dead Time are more about family relationships. There are parenting issues as well relations between siblings and coming of age. At one stage there seems to be some new sort of lingo introduced where I wasn’t sure if it was from the future or teenager stuff!

The basic premise is that there has been an outbreak of a virus and we’re reading about the end of the human world scenario. What makes this series an interesting read is that it’s concerned with the bits which happen afterwards.

One of the things which happens afterwards is a love interest. Actually there are two, and in both cases it was nice to see the relationship form and grow instead of having certain bodily parts thrust in your face and invited to the resulting shag-fest afterwards (as it was in Crossing in Time. There was a nice quote which I’ll reproduce here:

“Love is telling someone to go to hell and worrying if they’ll get there safely.”

Actually on this note, there are quite a few random but beautiful quotes scattered throughout the novels – as well as subtle references to other novels and films and subtle humour.

Writing style

I love Deb’s writing style. There’s scifi and comedy there for the taking if you recognise / understand it – and Latin if you care to translate it (I did!) – but more generally, the text reads so smoothly you wonder why it didn’t write itself (and in which case why did I need to wait so long for these novels?!)

The writing is powerful – one character is effectively kidnapped, and this situation is covered in first person – and in the third where the horror extends to the worry and anxiety of those who care about her. I really liked the ‘nicknames’ given to some of the characters – “the Hulk, “Blabbermouth”, “Nurse Ratched”, etc.. It describes not only those characters, but also gives more of an insight into the character asigning those names!

Characters

Recently I started to read a novel which I had to cast aside because its characters were able to do everything and anything and all that in superlative quantities. There was no tension because there were no problems or difficulties.

With Lost Time and Dead Time it’s different. There are many different characters who have many different skills in different levels of abilities. The interaction of these characters was done beautifully, and just as I’m always surprised at how my two daughters are so different from each other despite having the same parents and upbringing, I’m in awe at how an author can create so much character variety!

Interesting twists

In continuation with character interaction and relationships, I was really impressed with some masterful originality in a couple of instances.

The first is a crossover of couples – not in a swinging way, but in the same couples but straddling universes. A James from one universe with Isabella from another. The twist is not just different experiences, but different ages. As you may recall, I wasn’t impressed with the ‘same universe’ relationship from Crossing in Time – here’s things are much more solid.

The age / experience shuffle also comes into play where James meets himself. Characters meeting themselves are often taboo in time travel circles (or lines! πŸ˜‰ ) or characters do very odd things (e.g. in The Man Who Folded Himself (David Gerrold) and All You Zombies by Robert Heinlein). In this case there’s nothing bizarre going on – perhaps as realistic as you’d expect it to be – yet it’s precisely this angle which makes it so interesting!

The ending

I had a bit of a rant when it came to the ending of Crossing in Time. Lost Time doesn’t really have an ending – it pretty much just stops. Not a problem, because we go straight into Dead Time where 3 sub-plots come together and…spoilers will not be divulged! πŸ˜‰

I was pleased that it didn’t stop at the easy-cheesy point but followed through naturally – avoiding the Quantum Leap “Oh Boy!” run into the next instalment.

There is an epilogue. It caught me off guard, but it’s good!

What next?

The next book in the Between Two Evils series is Out of Time. If it’s anything like its predecessors then it’s a novel worth waiting for! (But not too long, please Deb!)

Why not head over to TimeTravelNexus.com and read my interview with Deb.

Paul

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"Lost Time" and "Dead Time" by DL Orton
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Author: Paul Wandason

I love astronomy and science fiction, but I love my family more. So I love time travel too!

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