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WesternSFA
Paradox Resolution
by K. A. Bedford
EDGE, $14.95, 253pp
Release Date: August 15, 2012
Paradox Resolution is a sequel to Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, which is one of the better titles to hit the market; the series, like the titles, are reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s dystopic fiction. There is even a character called Dickhead – part accurate description, part homage. Dickhead is the character you love to hate, and he has some of the funniest lines in this clever book. The protagonist is Spider Webb, a time-travel-machine repairman who made a tremendous sacrifice for his wife’s sake, one which by its very nature precludes her knowledge of it. But she senses something is deeply amiss, and this more than anything else is driving a wedge between them. A great deal of the resolution that goes on in the story concerns their troubled relationship and the realities that have been jiggered by Spider’s interventions. Beyond this core theme, there are numerous paradoxes that are the result of the increasing sophistication of time travel machines and the people who uses them to visit histories, and change them.

Spider is described as “a good man in a bad situation,” which I take to mean a schlemiel who labors to be a mensch. A mensch can be a hero; a schlemiel is the guy whose wife leaves him and then imposes on him; the guy who lets the Dickheads of the world manipulate him to their advantage, the guy who trades everything, up to and including portions of his integrity, for a happiness that will be snatched away from him – in Spider’s case, by interference from another timeline. And yet… he does save people’s lives; he does relinquish love and find new love; and he survives to embark on another dubious mission. Perhaps attaining mensch-hood is more a process than an achievement. More than anything else, Spider Webb reminds me of Hoffmann, from Offenbach ’s opera Tales of Hoffman, with his relentless nemesis, his yearning for love, his macabre adventures. You will enjoy this book best if you have an affection for the brooding quality of film noir as well as for the insane wildness of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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