Science fiction bordering on fantasy. The concept is very unique, and is what makes the book such an interesting read. It’s about three characters who all have unique abilities–not as superheroes, but powerful nonetheless. They’re all centered around time travel: One can see where people have traveled in the past; one can actually travel into the past; and one can move forward in time. These are all important survival ttraits, as they’re being chased by a truly evil Queen.
This quote will give you a taste of what they’re escaping:
“She likes us,” said Umbo. “I know, I could feel it too,” said Rigg. “She’s really glad to have us here. I think she loves us like her own children. Whom she murdered and cut up into the stew. They were delicious.”
Unknown to the characters, but necessary for the plot, they also have a distant forefather who gave them all their abilities. This is where the story really gets interesting–there are two stories, and the book switches between the two. Ram, their progenitor, has been sent on a mission from Earth to seed another planet, in order to save the human race from extinction.
The colony on the ship is in suspended animation, except for Ram and some robots, called expendables (maybe that name is what made them so devious). In order to avoid spending centuries in space, humans have discovered how to pass through a fold in space and make the trip in only a few decades. Unfortunately, Ram’s hidden and unknown abilities to transform time, wreak havoc with the time jump.
When I mentioned fantasy at the beginning of this review, I was talking about the time jumping events that all the characters display. I dislike fantasy because you can make the rules up as you go (hence the term, fantasy), and make things appear and disappear at will. Including character actions. All this time jumping borders on that, because when the characters run into trouble, they just jump around in time and warn themselves not to do certain things. But, because Card actually tries to explain how the time travel could actually happen, and makes it logical, I can live with it. And it makes the story work.
Rigg, the main character, reminds me very much of Ender, from Ender’s Game (the book that made Card famous). He is very logical, and can see things others can’t, like a young version of Sherlock Holmes.
So, in summary, we’ve got a mission in space assisted by expendables who in dialog with humans, are programmed to inject humor and irony into their conversations (that leads to some funny stuff), an evil Queen who will stop at nothing to kill our heroes, a wall that surrounds the towns that will drive you insane if you go near it, time travel puzzles that will make your head hurt, and a story that will leave you hungry for more.