It’s a long time since I read the C R Downing’s (Chuck’s) Traveler’s HOT L collection of short stories, but I remember them well. The time travel element is solid – the HOT L (Harmonious Overlap in Time Location), and it’s used in different ways for different reasons in different stories.
The HOT L volumes are an amazing collection of short stories, so I was happy to receive an email from Chuck. But I was also surprised. He reminded me of a comment I’d made in a review that some of the stories didn’t seem to involve time travel or the HOT L.
Well I’ve acted on that, he tells me, and reworked some of the stories to include an element of time travel. Fancy a read?
Chuck’s shuffled and rebound his short stories – including the reworked versions – in different volumes than previously, and I had the pleasure of reading the first of these.
This volume includes 2 of the reworked stories, Cold Blooded Murder and Battle for a Far Planet.
Cold blooded murder
I must admit, I stopped half way through.
I realise this sounds negative, but perhaps only to the half empty glass kind of people; I read half of this story – and I don’t like murder detective stories!
What came to the front for me during this (half read) was how time travel is used to give this story a twist. The metaphor of time being like a fabric is used to describe how people’s lives are like threads which are added, removed, missing and reinserted. And in some places, it’s in need of physical repair.
I can understand how editing a story can be very tough work, but I have a huge admiration for Chuck who’s able to weave in time travel as a plot thread! 😉 With this tailoring in mind, this line is sheer brilliance:
“How can I help, I’m not a seamstress!”
I’d love to recommend Cold Blooded Murder – at the very least, it should be given half a chance! 😉
Battle for a Far Planet
Apparently, I don’t mind reading about killing when it’s done cold blooded in a video game.
Main character Rosie is addicted to a video game in which she shoots alien spacecraft and the alien spacecraft shoot back. Or it might be the other way around.
I was just as addicted to reading the words of this short story as Rosie was in wiping out the aliens and progressing to higher levels in the game.
“I suspect it can read your mind”
At some point in the story, Rosie realises there’s a possibility of a telepathic link that gives the aliens an advantage. Again, this is another experience I share with Rosie in that having already read (a version of) this story before, I was suffering from either foreknowledge or déjà vu.
Again, this is testament to the skill in which the time travel element has been brought into the writing such that the story is both familiar and new at the same time.
2 things stood out to me with Battle for a Far Planet. The first is the “camera angle” of the story-telling. One minute it relates to Rosie and what she does, then it cuts to staff discussions within the HOT L. It gave me the strong impression that the HOT L staff are monitors from afar, yet heavily involved.
The second aspect is Chuck’s eye for small details in how people act. For example, there’s a nod to crowd psychology where spontaneous humour brings people together. Insights like this make the writing come to life because it’s relatable.
It’s therefore very easy to recommend Battle for a Far Planet! 🙂
“…gently ran her ethereal fingertips across the soft but strong time fabric beneath her…”
The writing is simply beautiful, and Chuck weaves the time travel element together with the original stories seamlessly. I really like the idea of a fabric of time, not just in these two stories, but also in the others of the Traveler’s HOT L collection. And, of course, the HOT L itself! Some of the staff there, however, I’m not sure that I’d like to meet!
“A mobile HOT L,” Epoch’s voice echoed Tempus’ with a hint of steel in his delivery.”
Review and interview links
My review of The Traveler’s HOT L Volume 1 is posted over on time travel nexus. The review of Volume 2 is here on time2timetravel, as is my interview with the man behind it all, C R Downing. (Just saw that the interview was 5 years ago! How time flies!!)
I’m also going to throw in a link to my review of Chuck’s Patterns on Pages, absolutely a must read!
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