Wednesday, January 15, 2020

This Is How You Lose the Time War

Cover image for This is how you lose the time war
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Saga Press, 2019, 198 pages, Science Fiction

Red and Blue are highly skilled time travel agents who represent opposing sides of a war that’s been waging for millennia. Their job is to alter both the past and the future in order to stop the opposing side from gaining access to technology that will help them win the war. When Blue leaves an intriguing note for Red with the intention of playing mind games, Red answers back in kind. So begins a correspondence between enemies that slowly morphs into something more. If Red and Blue’s secret friendship is discovered, it could mean death for them both.

This epistolary novel is a quick read, but the relationship between Red and Blue still grows slowly and organically. Red and Blue bond over discussions of their favorite time periods and comparisons of different timeline versions of world leaders. Soon they start revealing secrets they wouldn’t tell to anyone else, all while burying their letters from prying eyes in things like the pattern of a seal’s fur and in the taste of an apple seed. Although the story unwinds slowly, the conclusion is desperate and fast-paced as both Red and Blue frantically try to protect the other from the wrath of their respective leaders.

El-Mohtar and Gladstone have created a beautifully written novel that will stick with me for some time. Although this is science fiction, those who enjoy literary fiction will find a lot to like here as well.


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