Book Review! The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma

Sorry for being a little MIA the last week or so. Those classes at PureBarre I blogged about have been eating into my free time, in a good way! In fact, I participated in a promo for their DC location and got myself 2 free weeks of classes (*excited squeal*) so until the end of July, my goal is to keep going to classes 5 times per week. By way of an update, I’m 3 weeks into the unlimited month of classes I purchased, and I’m definitely noticing the benefits. The first couple of classes, I couldn’t hold the 90 second plank or do the number of regular push-ups in their warmup sequence; while some days I still have to push myself, I can do both now πŸ™‚ Depending on what I’ve been doing, some of the workouts are still really hard (I went for a morning run with Abe one day, about 1.5-2 miles, and my legs were still feeling great so I decided to do a bunch of squats too, then went to a barre class after work. I about died.) The basic choreography is supposed to switch soon (I hear that the whole franchise tries to switch it up about every 3 months, so that your body doesn’t get into a workout rut) so I’ll let you know what I think!

On to the main event: a review of The Map of Time, and The Map of the Sky, both by Felix J. Palma

MapofTime

I’ll be honest, what really drew me to The Map of Time was the intriguing combo of the title and the paperback’s cover art (and the fact that the paperback was super thick – I need a book that will last me more than 3 hours). The basic plot is that shortly after H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine is published, a businessman in London claims that he can transport people to a particular date in the future: the year 2000, where the brave Capt. Derek Shackleton will lead humanity’s triumph over the machines that had risen up and taken control of the earth. There are several sub-plots that weave around this main premise, involving H.G. Wells, time-traveling businessman Gilliam Murray, Capt. Shackleton, a wealthy young gentleman and his [prostitute] lover, and a young woman from London. I won’t say any more than that, because it would involve too many spoilers, but I was a fan of how Palma used the sub-plots to flesh out the story while leaving the reader guessing a little. One of my favorite things about this book is the inclusion of historical persons and events. While this is certainly not a novel based on historical facts, I liked the nod to history and the descriptions of Victorian London. I also particularly enjoyed the way that Palma addressed a science-fiction topic like time-travel in a historical setting.

I’ve actually lent my copy of the Map of Time out to a friend, and she’s gotten through all but the last 10-20 pages. She really enjoyed it and read the majority of the book over just a few days, but basically said that once she put it down, she was just having trouble picking it back up to “finish” those last few pages. I think it’s because while this was a good book, it isn’t one where you’re hanging on every particular word until the very end (like I did with The Night Circus) rather, the plot and characters are what make it so interesting, and the major points of the plot are wrapped up long before the final page.

Map of the Sky

Since I enjoyed The Map of Time so much, I bought the e-book version of The Map of the Sky, Palma’s sequel to The Map of Time. In his second novel, H.G. Wells returns, having just published The War of the Worlds. Shortly thereafter, all hell breaks loose when aliens actually begin to invade earth. We also see the return of Capt. Derek Shackleton, Gilliam Murray, former time-traveler, and Murray’s new love interest, an independent and strong-minded young American woman from New York. Together, they all attempt to escape or halt the alien invasion.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in it as a sequel. Had it been a first novel, I don’t think I would have minded the plot choices quite so much as I did. To explain, I’m going to have to get into some SPOILERS.Β You’ve been warned…

In Palma’s first novel, Murray’s Time Travel is revealed early on as a hoax. No one is actually travelling to the year 2000, and Capt. Shackleton and the others are merely actors on a very realistic-looking stage. Of course, the public doesn’t realize that it’s a hoax, and Murray fakes his own death at the end of the novel to keep people from investigating when his business closes. In The Map of the Sky, by contrast, aliens actually invade earth (in a manner slightly different from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds) and subjugate the human population. Roughly 2/3 of the way through the book, H.G. Wells is revealed to be an actual time-traveler (not that he knew it) because of some special quirk of his brain. Wells then travels through time, somewhat haphazardly, to kill the alien envoy who is responsible for beginning the invasion.

Now, I particularly enjoyed The Map of Time because of the way Palma approached a topic like time-travel. He described many of the “scientific theories” that individuals of the time had proposed about time travel and its consequences, but in the end time travel wasn’t actually possible. People were willing to believe that it was, and that alone was enough to influence their behavior and choices. I thought this was a wonderful commentary on the power of perception. As The Map of the Sky was a sequel, I was hoping to get another layer of this style of commentary. Β Instead, H.G. Wells’ time-traveling saves the day from the nasty invading aliens. Now, I suppose there is a commentary in there somewhere about how real heroes don’t always know exactly what they’re doing or that they’re saving the world, they’re simply doing the best they can, but overall this book just didn’t have the same feel as the last one and was a little too traditional-sci-fi (aliens are invading, we must stop them!) for me.

If anyone else has read these books, I’d love to hear your take on them! Any suggestions for books similar to The Map of Time?

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