You probably know Ben Elton as the writer behind such amazing shows as Blackadder and The Young Ones. But he's also the author of a ton of novels, many of which explore totally ludicrous science fiction premises with the kind of zany humor you'd expect. (The best are Gridlock and Stark.) And now, he's just published a time-travel book!
The bad news is, Time and Time Again appears to be available only in the U.K. and Australia, which is probably why we haven't heard much about it stateside. But you can order it easily from Amazon, although I don't see it on Powells or Barnes & Noble. And the premise sounds pretty fun: It's 2024, and a soldier of fortune named Hugh "Guts" Stanton is offered the chance to go back in time and prevent World War I, on the theory that the Great War led to all the misery of the past 100 years. But Stanton, who's basically described as a more awesome version of James Bond, finds that changing history isn't that straightforward (of course.)
The other bad news: The book has gotten mixed reviews thus far, for its odd mixture of Eltonian humor and serious ideas. Although people seem to like its thriller-esque action, and some of the cool bits. For example, The Australian says it's a mish-mash of styles that doesn't quite work, and the characters are beyond one-dimensional, but then says you get swept up in the action and it's too fun to put down after a while. The review adds:
Stanton's derring-do is diverting fun but the book's real strength happens to be both the calm-before-the-storm historical detail and the arresting vision of a dystopian future ''where love is treason … and every person in the world is an ant, a drone, a robot''.
In among the flagrant absurdities, the mind-bending talk of parallel universes and space-time vacuums, and Stanton's dramatic attempts to get back to the future, we find pertinent ethical questions that cover alternative-scenario ''what ifs'' and the ethics of collateral damage.
It's sad that Elton's books apparently aren't coming out in the States at all, and I can pretty much never have enough "traveling back in time to change history" stories. So this one might be worth ordering from across the pond.