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WesternSFA
A Bridge of Years
by Robert Charles Wilson
$16.99, Tom Doherty Assoc., 381pp
Release Date: December 6, 2011

This is a re-release of a 1991 book. But I’m very glad of it as I never encountered it before. And I really enjoyed this story.

A house in the Pacific Northwest woods hides a fascinating history – it’s really a time machine. Its longtime custodian is surprised one day by a renegade AWOL soldier from the future who kills the custodian and attempts to disable the time machine after he escapes further into the past. Many years pass and the house finally ends up as the property of Tom Winter; a man looking for peace and solace from the debacle of his own life. Initially, Tom is in a frame of mind to accept, without question, the magical and unseen cleaning crew who keep the house perfectly clean and in order. But eventually the disturbing dreams cause him to seek advice from a casual friend. The two men eventually discover the true nature of the house. The cleaning crew is resident nanobots and they attempt to communicate a need for help but Tom doesn’t understand. He accidently follows a tunnel under his house all the way to 1962. The temptation to escape his unhappy life is too much to resist.

After he is gone, his friend Tony, in his concern, approaches a neighbor woman with the request that if she sees or hears of anything ….strange…that she should call him. Not too long after that, the neighbor Catherine makes a terrifying discovery in the old woodshed on Tom’s property and does make that call.

Back in 1962, the renegade soldier is trying to forget his own history but without success. He has not found the new life he hoped for; and now, he has discovered that someone else has used the time tunnel. He is determined that if someone has come to take him back, he won’t allow it. In fact, he determines that he’d better make the first move and destroy the visitor first.

Tony and Catherine discover of what the nanobots were trying to warn Tom and decide they must follow him and bring him home. As you might imagine, Tom is less than cooperative; especially since he has found a new life.

A fun and fast-moving plot. The characters were sufficient; more detail would have simply added pages to the book. However….the book felt unbalanced. The climax was followed by too many pages with additional explanation and “what happened to them.” ~~ Catherine Book

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