TimeShift is a neat little thriller (the first in a planned trilogy) presented in a sci-fi wrapping, occurring as it does in a futuristic world in which humanity itself -- indeed all of life -- is clinging to existence beneath the threat of a deadly new form of life: a toxic indestructible "ash" that is deadly to all other living things.
The year is 2416. A brief (could there be any other kind?) nuclear war that occurred over three hundred years earlier has left behind the deadly "ash", a life form that is self-replicating and indestructible, forcing humankind to live underground in order to survive. Here people live in hermetically sealed buildings and cities and walk from place to place on streets and avenues that are nothing more than tunnels. The United States is now divided into East and West.
The lost past, when there was a sun to see shining and stars to see glowing at night, can still be viewed, however. This is done by the technological marvel of The Machine, which was built to take advantage of the existence of Beta Light, a previously unknown phenomenon, a light that is
"trapped in a sediment like swirl by the earth's magnetic field. Because of its unique properties, Beta Light acted like a recording film capturing the images of the past exactly as they happened--sights, sounds, everything just as it was."
"The Machine" allows a kind of time travel: a person (under a large risk of losing his/her life) can be "projected" into the Beta Light at specific times in history, to view events as they occurred. This allows this futuristic world to view, and catalogue, an absolutely true history of humankind, of the world. It also produces hope, for in viewing the past, it might be possible to discover the origin of the deadly "ash" and, in doing that, find a way to combat it, to rescue humankind from its current existence underground.
The primary character is Paul Thorndyke, an employee of B.E.T.A., just twenty years old, but already on the fast track at his new job. When his old teacher and mentor is accused and convicted of murder, Thorndyke becomes immersed in the political intrigue (provoked by the desire of some to rule the divided United States) that has caused his friend to be falsely convicted.
Along the way of discovering the plot to take over the divided United States, Paul meets Sharla Russell, and the two immediately become enamored of each other. She is a good strong female character, one to be played by Julia Roberts should the movie version of TimeShift ever be made. Together they battle the forces that would betray their country.
The lovers' dialogue between Paul and Sharla, and even that between Sharla and her friend, struck me as a bit corny. But that is a small objection to this very good book, a very crisply written novel, which, at just over 200 pages, seems to be too short -- a compliment as some of today's books are bloated at times. There are instances when the reader wants to learn more about the life being lived in this future world, to learn more about its society. Perhaps in the next book. There are definitely no wasted words here. The book is a true page turner that takes you breathlessly to its end, almost like falling into the racing swirl of TimeShift's Beta Light machine.
So if anyone is looking for a good read for sunning at the beach, or for a long flight, pick up this fine little sci-fi thriller. It will definitely keep you engrossed and entertained, right down to the turning of the last page.