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Eroldren looks over at the latest theme anthology from the Bolthole forum writing community, Marching Time, covering the myriad subject of Time Traveling.
“Showcases varied time periods and locations of remarkable Bolthole imagination to be found throughout this curious collection.” – Eroldren, The Founding Fields
History is written by the victors.
History is re-written by the time travelers.
Brave men and women will fight to the death in the battle to have the last word…
There is no technology that war will not bent to its desires. And despite the risks, so too does this include the dangers of time travel. Edited by Ross O’Brien, Andrew Aston and James Fadeley, the Bolthole writing forum is proud to present twelve new tales from the cunning minds of its new and veteran authors. Including chronological-twisted tales of warfare from Jonathan Ward, “Spares” authors Alex McQuay, Lauren Grest, Mark Steven Thompson, Ed Fortune, Griff Williams, Mar Grudgings and a special guest story from the veteran writer C.L. Werner.
Of the many subgenres that Sci-Fi and Fantasy has given rise to, time traveling has been one of the most different while yet fascinating subject, at least, the general concept behind it in the back recesses of my mind. Apart from movie adaptions of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, or the occasional TV episode featuring a troublesome conflict of time travel for our characters etc. The printed medium of the books that handle time travel to whatever extent something I’ve haven’t actively pursued after, except one or two early books from Larry Niven, and the sometimes coming across WH40K background fluff or Black Library novels regarding the strange and bizarre nature of the Warp.
For Marching Time by the Bolthole’s pool of writing talent, this second anthology from them was a first time venture for me to dive full-on into this particular genre I’ve avoided. And after finishing it and a couple rereads on the stories here-and-there, it was a splendid enough ride with some bumps along the way to have taken a gander.
Starting off Marching Time with Jonathan Ward’s “Ripples,” one the best highlights for any interested reader to takeaway from the entire lot. While it does certainly does take time to adjust to the setting and lead character like any other story in Marching Time, once in the mindset the story develops seemingly captivating, it not a cinematic story from start to finish. Throughout the rest of the book, tales such as the unusual yet most intriguing setting of “Flár Ragnarök” by James Fadeley will keep one wondering ‘Why? How?’ and caught up with its swift pacing. Other Bolthole authors such as Alx McQuay and A.R. Aston make strong comebacks from The Black Wind Whispers with “Fractured” and the enigmatic secrets behind “The Subliminal Reserves.” Alongside the previous writers, Bolthole newcomers have also made their debut like Mark Grudgings’ strange and somewhat ghastly time traveling take in “The Lost,” “Marked for Death” by Ed Fortune, or that of “Family Ties” by Lauren Grest.
Even tuckered away in this anthology of short stories, one can read C.L. Werner of Black Library fame early through had submitted another special guest story, “The Lost Blitzkrieg.” And with his story dedication to Ray Harryhausen, I did find my mental imagination reverting for this particular story the scenes playing out with animation akin to Clash of the Titans or The 7th Voyage of Sinbad made “The Lost Blitzkrieg” ever more so utterly splendid.
I do have to say like any previous anthology that I’ve read you’ll see in Marching Time there are always a handful of hit-or-misses to be found. Some were of minor extent (i.e. worldbuilding and dialogue), others of greater scale that simply left me perplex in both their storytelling approach and how to process together all and consider the individual nature of each and every time traveling universe Marching Time. Outside the difficulties of time travel itself, the only other hurdle Marching Time readers may find challenging is actually the making the usual transition between stories. As said just beforehand, every single short story is set within independent and standalone worlds onto themselves; there is no common ground or at least the very sense that there was something grounding them down. While understandable so, I often found myself taking several and long breaks nevertheless in order to maintain plot continuities before pushing them out of the recessives of my mind to start reading again with a new clean slate of mind.
Besides those personal preferences of mine, I’ll say out of all the many offerings that the Bolthole community has to show for, the overall picture that the Marching Time anthology presents us another worthwhile collection to pick up. Not entirely perfect, however, its one that’s able to get by. The Bolthole are still promising bunch with their second published outing, and with more to show up later on the distant horizon I’ll keep an eye out.
Overall Verdict: 7/10
Eroldren, a SFF follower of both tie-in media and original works, enjoys rereading books frequently. So be warned, he might bring out sometimes his share of older and heavy duty titles alongside the newcomers.