I was a little bit unsure of this book when I first started reading it – whilst I like the concept of time travel stories, I often find that stories relating to real events lack the realism that allows me to just go with the flow and I regularly find myself frustrated with the outcome.
However, Time and Time Again by Ben Elton is a masterpiece of both historical and science fiction writing – excellently crafted and brilliantly researched.
Set in both 2024 and 1914, Time and Time Again follows the story of Hugh Stanton, an ex-military man and famous survivalist, who is sent back through time from rather a grim 2024 to 1914 to prevent the outbreak of the First World War.
Unlike most other science fiction stories, that rely heavily on new fangled technologies to allow the jump through time, Time and Time Again provides a more natural, scientific explanation for how this jump can occur. Along with the thoroughly researched historical aspects of the story, this natural explanation allows the reader to fully immerse themselves in the story without ever really questioning the realism of it all.
The main character of Stanton is a fantastic lead – a reluctant hero who, having lost his wife and child to a tragic motor accident, has nothing to keep him in the bleak world of 2024. In addition to being suited for the role in as a soldier, Stanton also is a student of history. As he makes his way across early twentieth century Europe, the reader is treated to some brilliant moments – from Stanton’s enjoyment of a steam train ride across the Balkans to the surprise of those around him at his outspoken support of the suffragette movement.
The story is made all the more brilliant in the final few chapters when, expecting everything to be neatly rounded up, the reader is treated to one last twist that completely challenges everything they know about the story up until that point…
This tale of a man sent back in time to prevent the First World War happening is so engaging that I found it hard to put down between reading sessions. Ben Elton has masterfully taken a common ‘What If’ question and reimagined it into a compelling story with a wonderfully dark and troubled lead to push through the story.
Whilst this is a great book for anyone with an interest in history, those with a sound knowledge of the early twentieth century will find themselves particularly engrossed in this story that not only combines brilliant fiction with some fantastic historical arguments.
A gripping read!