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by Joe Kimball
Ace Books, 2011, $7.99, 306pp
Release Date: May 31, 2011

With the glut of urban fantasy in the market, it is hugely refreshing to read genuine hard science-fiction. Timecaster is an action-packed adventure with mayhem, martial arts, sex, and a projected future unlike any other. Kimball has imagined an intervening history between our now and the story’s now that includes a second civil war of succession, an economic revolution over biodiesel, and a counter-culture of dissidents who live off the grid. The details are totally, completely kewl. I refuse to play spoiler.

In 2064, crime has virtually ceased to be perpetuated, because the invention and implementation of the TEV (tachyon emission visualizer) has put an end to uncertainty: it shows exactly who did what at a crime scene. Not many would-be perps like those odds.

Only a few people have the ability to attune a TEV to the relevant frequency. One of the few is Talon, a Chicago area Time-caster. Talon has a pretty good life, except that his neighbors annoy him, his wife is a licensed sex-therapist and he wishes she’d retire, his former best buddy now hates his guts, and most people have enough sense of self-preservation that he hasn’t had an actual case to solve in two years.

Then, one of his wife’s clients reports a murder, and Talon’s life spins out of control, because the TEV shows Talon committing the crime, and the DNA on the scene matches his down to the last sequencing.

Now Talon has to elude some very determined pursuit, figure out how an inter-dimensional rift is being exploited by an alternate self, and rescue his abducted wife.

Timecaster is a somewhat like the Jet Li film The One, only edgier and with a wildly different perspective of the future. You may not want to live in this world, but honestly, it’s a fun place to visit.

The book has a cliff-hanger ending, so it looks like we have a trilogy in the making. ~~ Chris Paige

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