Jack McDevitt’s latest novel titled Time Travelers Never Die does not fall into the author’s usual future space travel adventure. An expansion of his earlier short story which appeared in Asimov’s under the same title, this novel gives the reader sneak peeks of amazing people, places and times in history – and probable future. But the heart of the tale is an examination of human behavior in the grasp of such technology.
Adrian “Shel” Shelborne is desperate to find his missing father, Michael Shelborne, M.A., PhD., and soon learns of secret time travel devises which belonged to his father. With close friend Dave Dryden, who conveniently yet necessarily happens to be a linguist – you can’t go to strange lands without knowing the language, the two men search across time for the missing traveler. But given the vast expanse of time from the beginning of human existence to the immeasurable future, the difficulty of their task is appreciated.
Their journey opens up an endless world of possibilities, and this is where McDevitt inevitably draws in the reader by stimulating the same curiosity as the characters they’ve come to know. Like the heroes, one can’t help but wonder where and when you would go. Would you be as adventurous as Shel and Dave? Would you witness, and in some cases participate in some of the most famous moments in history? Or would you merely hide in the shadows as a voyeur of time? Would you attempt to alter history if you could?
The usual time travel paradoxes of changing the past to alter the future are mentioned in this book, but that fear is usually squelched by the thrill of the ride. Trepidations aside, imagine the potential if one could know which stocks would soar, what team would prevail in the big game or what numbers would win the lottery. Or even more tantalizing, would you want to know your own fate? After all, time travelers are not immortal – right? This is the mystery in which McDevitt addresses with skilled speculation – and draws his title from.
Though Time Travelers Never Die does not fit the mold some are accustomed from Jack McDevitt, it may be one of his most thought provoking works in some time. One can wonder if Adrian Shelborne gets the same attention as some of McDevitt’s other serialized characters such as Priscilla Hutchins or Alex Benedict. Only time will tell.
This book was purchased at the local Borders, but it can be found at most neighboring libraries as well.