Review: Exploits in Time by Nicholas C. Thomas

Exploits in Time (Nicholas C. Thomas) is a fantastic collection of 10 stories with original takes on the mysteries of time travel and other ideas in science fiction. Ultimately, it has at least something for everyone with an interest in science fiction, and if you’re lucky, it has even more!

Exploits in Time by Nicholas C. Thomas is a fantastic collection of 10 short stories with original takes on the mysteries of time travel and other ideas in science fiction.

Exploits in Time book cover

Ten out of Ten!

A possible pitfall with collections of short stories is that there may be one or two stories which just don’t cut it. Thankfully this is not the case with Exploits in Time – I found all of the shorts to be engaging, and there isn’t one (or more) which I’d single out that I wish I’d not spent my time on.

This is a great feat when you consider the enormous scope of subjects within the collection! Actually the breadth of scope also bears testament to both the quality of the writing and the presentation of the stories themselves. For example, “Poltergeist” is about a Poltergeist (…obviously!). I’m not a fan of supernatural things so I was expecting my anomalously ‘bad’ story to be this one, but Nicholas C. Thomas puts a intriguing angle on it that it kept me engrossed all the way through!

Simply put, it’s the story and the delivery which make these short stories entertaining – not just the subject.

So Exploits in Time is up there with Jack Finney’s About Time which is the only other collection of short stories (to date) where I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each one. (Actually the main problem with About Time is that it inspired me to buy Time and Again which turned out to be a horrendous read *growl*.)

Writing Style

Generally speaking I find the length of each story to be sitting comfortably in the Goldilocks Zone – long enough to get stuck into and make it meaty, and short enough to keep it punchy.

I particularly like the style in which Nicholas C. Thomas writes – primarily he uses dialogue to paint pictures and describes things, and leaves out much of the dry narrative that often beefs up short stories unnecessarily. The result is a beautifully succinct short story which is sweet and to the point and I think marks Nicholas C. Thomas as a remarkable and unique author.

The other hidden gem is the scientific content. It’s not full blown and in your face, but it’s certainly there, and the ideas are presented with fascinating – yet consistent – twists and turns. For me, this is a real bonus; black box is fine, but getting into the nuts and bolts of it all (and having a good play around) is so much more fun!

Ultimately, Exploits in Time has at least something for everyone with an interest in science fiction, and if you’re lucky, it has even more!

Exploits in Time is published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and Blackwell’s (see links at footer of publisher’s page).


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Disclaimer: A copy of “Exploits in Time” was sent to me free of charge to read and provide an honest opinion. This is it! (But of course you are more than welcome to read this book for yourself and form your own views! 😉

Star ratings:

| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |

Review: The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski

Time travel offers another chance to relive parts of your life which don’t turn out the way you’d like. Scientist Margaret Braverman discovers how to travel back in time by transporting her 60 year old mind into her 35 year old body and hopes to do things differently this time around.

But time travel is never as simple as it seems. She can only move a few fingers in her younger body and is forced to watch with fascination and horror as history repeats itself…and she has plenty of trouble in store for her when she returns to the present.

The Mindtraveler is a captivating time travel romance novel with scientific oomph! Unafraid to delve into the realms of time travel and its complications, it provokes moral and philosophical questions if we were given the chance to live our life again. Marrying romance with science and divorcing ignorance from time travel, The Mindtraveler is novel which you can’t put down!

The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski

The Mindtraveler

The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski is a captivating time travel romance with a firm footing in science. It’s unafraid to delve into the realms of time travel and its complications, provoking moral and philosophical questions if we were given the chance to live our life again.

Brief Synopsis

Margaret is a 60 year old scientist living with the regret of a failed relationship. To the annoyance of her colleagues she develops a time machine as sideline research and finds a way to transport her mind back in time into the body of her 35 year old self.

From this perspective she is able to relive her past – her affair with her colleague Frank, witness of police brutality, victim of an attack and the development of her time machine.

Unfortunately Margaret finds that she can take barely more than a passive role, able at best to move only a few fingers of her younger host body. This means that she can’t pass on or share her 25 years worth of wisdom (and hindsight foresight), and is forced to watch the same mistakes being made again.

In a wild flurry of necessity Margaret finally discovers how to move her host body and manipulates it so that a key moment in her history is changed.

She returns to an altered present where she discovers that her younger self has hitched a ride with her, and who now knows that her time machine works. The young ambitious scientist wants wants to publish the results in scientific journals of her time, but is advised against doing so by the older Margaret.

This is a sting in the tail for the elder Margaret whose present is once again altered.

But is it for the better?

The underlying science

The Mindtraveler is a centipede of a book with many feet in many camps; romance, drama and sci-fi. But what makes this novel different from many others is how it intertwines real science within the narrative.

It’s beautifully done; the story is told from the viewpoint of a lady in her sixties who’s a lecturer and researcher at a university. When she explains science to the reader it’s as though…I was never quite sure…we were either her students or her grandchildren. I was happy with either.

So the science behind her experiments, her thought processes and the methods she uses to solve them are all explained to us clearly and fluently and we get to understand the mechanics of the time machine.

Bonnie has clearly looked into underlying scientific principles and applied them well as the basis for her main character’s time machine – and explanations of it to her colleagues.

And here’s a direct example of how well Bonnie understands the subject area:

In Chapter 3 Margaret describes an experiment which shows how 2 particles are entangled in time: a laser fires a beam to a crystal where twin photons in each split beam take different paths. The photons in one beam are delayed so they arrive later than it’s entangled photon in the other beam. The setup of the cameras to detect the photons capture the image of the earlier photon, but who’s pattern was determined by the latter photon.

Let’s jump away from the novel for a moment and dive into real life.

Image: Gabriela Barreto Lemos
Image: Gabriela Barreto Lemos

The image to the right is taken from an article in New Scientist, published on 27 August 2014, and shows cats which:

“…were generated using a cat stencil and entangled photons. The really spooky part is that the photons used to generate the image never interacted with the stencil, while the photons that illuminated the stencil were never seen by the camera.” (Quoted from New Scientist article)

What I find spooky is the similarity between Margaret’s experiment and this one! Kudos!

The time travel

Time travel is an integral part of the novel – not simply because there’s a time machine, but because the story involves its development, and crucially, the scientific thinking behind it.

The time travel method is to map the quantum state of the mind, and establish its quantum connection to another point in time. The mind can then travel through time (backwards or forwards) as long as the host body is ready to receive it.

This reminds me a little of the movie “Being John Malkovich” where a puppeteer enters the mind of John Malkovich and sees and feels everything that John can, but all the while maintains his own sense of self.

Unlike the puppeteer in the movie, Margaret finds it more difficult to control her host body, and asks herself the question “what was the point in going back in time if you can do nothing to change it?”

This is a key part of the novel – can (or should) you change the past? And likewise…can you change the future?

Whilst reading The Mindtraveler I also came to think of The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser. Admittedly I found The Mirror to be a huge disappointment and non-event, but there is a similarity in the novels in that there is a transference of mind from one body to another body in another time.

In The Mirror there was an interesting point where the mind that had gone back in time ‘caught up’ with its own body in the present.

Whilst this didn’t quite happen in The Mindtraveler (though I think would have given rise to some interesting implications!) there was an interesting Looper-like argument between young and old Margaret when two minds were in the same body at the same time.

Something which I thought was particularly good was how Margaret’s memory was preserved – both in the 60 year old’s memory of the past, and when she came back to the alternate present (i.e. no new memories were instilled, or original ones taken away). Whether this was due to the ‘mind mapping’ time travel technique, or something more philosophical I’m not sure – but it’s a really nice touch!

There is also a brilliant segment on Margaret’s lab assistant Morgan – pay attention to her!

The romance

The time travel element in The Mindtraveler isn’t simply a vessel to describe things in Margaret’s past; indeed, its description is done through thoughtful contrast with the perspective of the present.

So we’ve done the time travel…now what do we do now that we’re back in the past? Instead of droning on and on about the past as Jack Finney does in the dreadful Time and Again where nothing happens, The Mindtraveler is thankfully different.

Margaret cracks time travel and tries to change things, notably, her failed relationship. Whether the relationship between Margaret and Frank is the primary or secondary plot (after the time travel – getting to be in a position (i.e. a time) when the relationship can be salvaged) is probably a matter of personal perspective.

Margaret herself of course takes two personalities – those of her younger and older self – and this makes for some pretty interesting reading when it comes to her thoughts about Frank. (It was also interesting for me as a man to read about how women (or at least, this one) feel about relationships and things.) I’m generally not into romances and stuff, but it came across nicely here.

Other thoughts

Something which immediately struck a chord with me (and perhaps this is because I’m a scientist by profession) is the accuracy of Bonnie’s insight (or research) into the negative side of academic politics – the petty mindedness and ambition of individuals, personal vendettas for selfish reasons.

You do get complete self serving and inflated s*its like Caleb, and you do get researchers on the fringe of the norm but who are academically excellent. These characters aren’t necessarily likeable, but they’re real.

However, the novel is about Margaret (and Frank), and about her research in time travel. It isn’t about her colleagues, friends or students – they feature because they make up part of her history, but they’re not the main focus. (Although as I mentioned earlier – pay attention to Morgan!)

Quite shockingly there are two violent episodes – police brutality and an attack. At first I wondered why they were included…but it was a natural read and the events didn’t appear to be contrived and added for the sake of it. Violence itself is shocking, but for me, what added to that is the fact that these events persisted to the memory of a 60 year old.

Well…understandable I think, given the circumstances.

For me the weak point in the novel is when Margaret returns to the present and hears that she’s won the Nobel Prize; I thought the timing was strange and too coincidental in that we’ve already seen that there can be an alternate history so the award of the er…award at exactly the point of her return seems too unlikely.

So is it better to have known love and lost it to a Nobel prize in physics, or to never have known [that] love at all?

When Margaret was in the ‘with-Frank’ future, she didn’t seem to take time to enjoy it fully, though I suppose the scientist side of her took control to see what had happened and how to preserve it. Her efforts are hampered, but it did leave me with an unanswered question: why didn’t Margaret go back in time again? Perhaps there is room for a sequel…I certainly hope so!


The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski is due out in February 2015 and will be published by Bitingduck Press. Unless you can get hold of a time machine, you’ll just have to wait until then! 😉

Rating * * * * *

The Mindtraveler by Bonnie Rozanski gets 5 stars for all the reasons I’ve written about above!

The Mindtraveler: A captivating time travel romance novel with scientific oomph!


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Disclaimer: A PDF copy of The Mindtraveler” was sent to me free of charge so that I could read and write my honest thoughts and opinions. These are they!

Star ratings:

| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |

Review: The Accidental Prologue

The Accidental Prologue by Andre Mazeron is an absolutely cracking time travel short story with a wonderful writing style which endears you to the first person character. The mechanics of time travel are integral within the plot which even describes experiments helping to understand how time travel paradoxes can be avoided.

Review: The Accidental Prologue by André Mazeron

Review: The Accidental Prologue

What an absolutely cracking short story!

The writing style is wonderful, immediately endearing me to the first person main character. This is even more marvelous when you consider that the author is Brazilian and is writing in English as a second language. Indeed, there are a few grammatical errors, but they really don’t detract the reader from the plot. And only a fool would let them.

(In fact, I’d say that André’s writing is on an equal footing with Felix J. Palma of The Map of Time!)

The plot details the mechanics of time travel and even describes experiments which help to understand how time travel paradoxes can be avoided. This is a great inclusion by André who is clearly mindful that science in science fiction needs to be consistent.

In addition to the quality scientific content, André also shows the quality of his background reading in other areas – take for example the name of the book and why it’s so called… Ah well, “If a rose were not a rose…” 😉

Short stories often end quickly and suddenly, giving the reader a sense of “Eh?…Ah yes!”. I was pleased that that this short story continued a little further, nicely rounding things off, and yet still providing me with that “Ah yes!” feeling at the end without any perplexity beforehand.

All in all, this is a fantastic debut short story (or “novelette”) from André Mazeron with great science and its applications in time travel – it’s well worth a read!


The Accidental Prologue by André Mazeron is available on Kindle at (associate link). It was free when I downloaded it – and at only 21 pages in length you really can’t go wrong!

Rating * * * * *

5/5 stars for a short and sweet time travel short story! 🙂

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Star ratings:

| 5* Excellent! | 4* Good | 3* OK | 2* Not good | 1* Crud |