Have you ever wondered if H.G. Wells really invented time travel? If you haven’t, but are intrigued by the concept, you’re in luck–someone else has given this subject some thought. In fact, quite a bit of thought. Six hundred plus pages worth.
Although a secondary character, Wells ties The Map of Time together. The unwitting hero, Wells uses his literary acumen and reputation as the “father of time travel” (thanks to his book The Time Machine) to solve various mysteries. In the end, however, Wells must piece together the greatest mystery of all: his own.
To say that The Map of Time is a genre-bender is an understatement. I debated for quite some time and decided to place it under science fiction/Steampunk, but the fit chaffs a bit. Palma’s masterpiece is far too accurate to “real” history to be Steampunk and lovers of pure science fiction might be disappointed by the ways in which Palma breaks with key tenants of their genre. At the same time, The Map of Time could equally be called a thriller, a mystery, a romance, a time travel epic, and a set of interlocking novellas.
What sets Felix J. Palma apart, however, is his ingenious narrative structure. As stated in Palma’s book jacket biography, he has “been unanimously acclaimed by critics as one of the most brilliant and original storytellers of our time.” Palma’s originality stems from a number of sources: his award-winning background in short story writing, the unusual strength and presence of a powerful narrator throughout his work, and the artful way in which he manages to weave together his three disparate plot lines over the course of his novel.
Palma’s talent with narrative reinforces the distinct voice he brings to The Map of Time. A winning combination of rich prose, sharp dialogue, and a dry, witty sense of humor make The Map of Time a treat. I was all the more impressed when I saw that The Map of Time was not originally written in English. It was translated from Spanish. The translator Nick Caistor deserves a medal.
Beautifully developed characters carry the story. Palma introduces a star-studded cast of historical and literary personages–Jack the Ripper, H.G. Wells, Bram Stoker, Joseph Merrick, and Henry James–while surrounding them with delightfully original characters of his own invention.
Palma’s The Map of Time is the complete package. As one tongue-in-check reviewer from The Washington Post commented, “the only thing missing [from Palma’s novel] is a DeLorean.”
It makes for a great, if long, read for the average reader and a source of inspiration for aspiring writers. Palma’s first novel, The Map of Time is a literary underdog which soared to instant acclaim. Who doesn’t love an underdog story?
Have you read The Map of Time? Check out this interview with Felix J. Palma on “Booktopia Blog” :