I just finished “To Say Nothing of the Dog” -by Connie Willis , A tale of time travel set primarily in Victorian England. Think “Charley’s Aunt” meets “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”!
Time travel stories are a particularly favorite genre of mine, and one that is seldom well done. Too many authors have problems with causality or paradoxes that are either ignored or perhaps, not even recognized by the author?
To Say Nothing of the Dog is not science fiction per se. There is little “science” here: No flux capacitors, black holes or Heisenberg compensators. Their time portals are rather like an elevator…when you push the button, the door opens and you get in and are taken to your destination.
Set in a so too distant future where cats, incidentally have become extinct… See! Not all visions of the future are bleak! (Just kidding, cat lovers!) …it is thought that matter cannot be transported from the past, until a historian sent back to Victorian England rescues a cat and brings it forward in time. The difficulties and humor ensue when another historian is dispatched to return the cat to its own era and prevent any incongruities in the space time continuum from occurring.
Unfortunately, for our hero, frequent trips back and forth through time produce “time lag”, which closely mimics severe sleep deprivation in its effects, further hampering our hero from concluding his appointed rounds.
I enjoyed it. More a Victorian comedy than space time epic, still Ms. Willis acknowledges inspiration from the master, Robert Heinlein, in her dedication, and you can see, perhaps a bit of By His Bootstraps in the structure of the plot. A good read, but not everyone’s cup of tea!
To Say Nothing of the Dog won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1999 and is available in paperback from Bantam Books