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When two 24th-century chrononauts travel back in time, they inadvertently disrupt the voyage of the Hinden-burg-causing it to land successfully. Now, lost in a parallel universe, their mistake will be felt by every single human being.

"The master of science fiction intrigue." (The Washington Post)

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East Rutherford, New Jersey, U.S.A. 2001 H Hardcover New in J New jacket 1st printing/1st edition, SIGNED on the title page by the author. This book is square, solid, an ... rocking in every possible way! The DJ is sharp and lustrous in a protective mylar Brodart! When you receive this gem, you'll goggle, wide-eyed with amazement over its many excellences! ! ! Read more Show Less

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When two 24th-century chrononauts travel back in time, they inadvertently disrupt the voyage of the Hinden-burg-causing it to land successfully. Now, lost in a parallel universe, their mistake will be felt by every single human being.

"The master of science fiction intrigue." (The Washington Post)

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
The master of science fiction intrigue.
Washington Post
The master of science fiction intrigue.
John Varley
The best writer to come along in the last decade.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Allen Steele is among the best.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Clearly written to please his fans and the editors of the science fiction magazines he frequently publishes in, this alternate-world novel by Steele (Oceanspace) panders (by excessive namedropping), without producing stellar results. In the 1998 of our world, David Zachary Murphy, a physicist with NASA who longs to be a professional writer of speculative fiction and see his name featured on SF magazine covers, writes a nonfiction article about the possibility that UFOs are time-travel machines. This story achieves every writer's dream it changes the future of the world. Especially the future for Franc and Lea, time travelers from the year 2314. When Franc and Lea go back to 1937 to observe the crash of the Hindenberg, their participation in the disaster somehow destroys their world and its time line. They are bounced into an alternate time line, in which Murphy and his postulations are a nexus. Franc and Lea's heavy-handed attempts to fix things (including impersonating one of Murphy's idols, real-life SF writer Gregory Benford) only make the situation worse. Meanwhile, mysterious "angels" are observing mankind, using their own extraterrestrial powers to try to stop the paradoxes caused by humanity's use of time travel before humans can infest the galaxy with their follies. Derivative and cloying, this isn't up to the level of Steele's short stories, which do grace the pages of many of the magazines he reverentially mentions throughout this novel. (May 8) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441008322
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/8/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Read an Excerpt


By Allen Steele

Ace Books

Copyright © 2002 Allen Steele
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0441009069

Chapter One

Monday, January 12, 1998: 7:45 A.M.

The train from Virginia was crowded, as it always was during morning rush at the beginning of the week. Murphy could have driven into D.C., and in fact had left his home in Arlington intending to do just that, but when he heard on the radio that an accident on the Roosevelt Bridge had caused traffic to back up on the Beltway, he changed his mind at the last minute and decided instead to catch the inbound Metro from Huntington Station. Under normal circumstances he would have sat out the jam, but his meeting was scheduled for eight o'clock sharp, and this was one appointment for which he dared not be late.

So he sat nervously on the plastic seat, hands folded together on his briefcase, jostled every now and then by the man reading the Washington Post next to him. As the train rumbled through the long tunnel beneath the Potomac, he contemplated his reflection in the window. The face which gazed back at him was still young, yet rapidly approaching middle age; he saw creases where he had never noticed any before, a hairline subtly receding from his forehead and temples, dark circles beneath eyes that had once been curious and lively.

Was this just the Monday blahs, or was he was getting old, and more quickly than expected? It been only seven years since he had left Cornell University, moving his wife and infant child from Ithaca to Washington so he could take a job with NASA. He had a beard then, as he recalled, and his eleven-year-old Volvo still sported a peeling Grateful Dead sticker left over from some grad-student road trip he had taken with Donna. That seemed like a hundred years ago; the beard was long gone, he had traded in the trusty Volvo for a Ford Escort that promptly broke down once every three months, and even the Dead were no longer around. All that remained was another overworked and underpaid government bureaucrat, indistinguishable from the dozens of others riding the train to work.

He only hoped that, when the day was done, he'd still have a job to which he could commute.

Just as Murphy was checking his watch for the tenth time since boarding the Metro, the train began to decelerate. A few moments later, the next station swept into the view. Rushing past businessmen in overcoats, students in parkas, and shabby-looking street people, the train gradually coasted to a stop in front of the platform.

"L'Enfant Plaza. Transfer to all lines. Doors opening on the right." Again, Murphy found himself wondering whether the train's voice was recorded.

He pulled on his gloves, picked up his briefcase, stood up, and joined the line of passengers shuffling out of the car. Once on the platform, he quickened his pace; buttoning up his parka, he marched through the exit turnstiles, then jogged past the ticket machines to the long escalator leading up to E Street. Muted winter sunlight caught random flakes of snow drifting down through the entrance shaft; he pulled up his hood against the harsh wind and ignored the homeless people begging for spare change at the top of the escalator.

He was almost running by the time he covered the two city blocks that separated L'Enfant Plaza from his place of work. A long, eight-story glass box, NASA headquarters was as soulless as any of the other other federal offices surrounding the Mall, but at least it didn't have the paranoid Post-Apocalypse-style of government buildings erected during the late sixties and early seventies, when government architects were obviously planning for civil insurrections by excluding ground-floor windows and limiting the number of entry doors. Digging into his coat pocket, Murphy pulled out his laminated I.D. badge and flashed it at the security guard behind the front desk, then sprinted for the nearest elevator just as its doors were beginning to close. He glanced at his watch; just a minute past eight. No time to visit his office; he reached past the other passengers to stab the button for the eighth floor.

The elevator opened onto a long corridor decorated with paintings of Saturn V rockets and Apollo astronauts being suited up. Murphy tugged off his coat as he strode down the hall, carefully noting the coded signs on each door he passed. In the seven years he had worked at NASA, he had been to this floor only a few times; this was the senior administrative level, and you didn't come up here unless you had a good reason.

The boardroom was located at the end of the corridor, only a few doors down from the Chief Administrator's office. The door was half-open; he could hear voices inside. Murphy hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath and pushed open the door.

Three men were seated at the far end of the long oak table that took up most of the room; one chair had been left vacant between them. Their conversation came to a stop as Murphy walked in; everyone looked up at him, and for an instant he felt a rush of panic.

"Dr. Murphy, welcome. Please come in." Roger Ordmann, the Associate Administrator of the Office of Space Science, pushed back his chair and stood up. "You're running a little late. I hope you didn't have any trouble getting here today."

"My apologies. There was a ..." No point in telling them about his decision to take the Metro. "Just a problem with traffic. Sorry if I kept you waiting."

"Not at all." Ordmann gestured to the vacant chair as he sat down again. "The Beltway can be brutal this time of day. At any rate ... well, I believe you already know everyone here."

Indeed he did. Harry Cummisky, Space Science's Chief of Staff, was the man who had hired Murphy seven years ago. Although only a few years older than Murphy himself, he was the person to whom Murphy directly reported. Harry gave him a nod which was cordial yet nonetheless cool. If it wasn't for Murphy, after all, he wouldn't be here today.

Next to him was Kent Morris, the Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA's Public Affairs Office. Murphy knew Morris less well; they had met only three weeks ago, during NASA's annual Christmas party. Morris seemed affable enough then, but there was a certain edge to him that Murphy instinctively disliked. As it turned out, his feelings were correct; Morris had just transferred over to NASA from the Pentagon, where the PAO was more inclined to scrutinize civilian employees for possible security breaches. It had been a little less than a week after the Christmas party when Morris had blown the whistle on Murphy.

As for Roger Ordmann ... although Murphy had only met him once or twice before, he knew him all too well, if only by reputation. The former vice president of a major NASA contractor, Ordmann had been recruited to the agency by the Chief Administrator after Dan Goldin himself had come aboard during the Bush administration. Ordmann was a company man; he followed Goldin's visionary lead without having much of a vision of his own, beyond making sure that Space Science continued to be sufficiently funded through the next fiscal year. Courtly, urbane, and soft-spoken, he could nonetheless be unmerciful when it came to dismissing any personnel in the Washington office who roused his ire.

"Yes, sir. I know everyone." Murphy draped his coat over the back of his chair; there was a long, expectant silence as he sat down. Now it seemed as if everyone was stating at him, waiting for him to continue. "To start with ..."

Feeling an itch in his throat, Murphy coughed into his hand. "Excuse me. To begin with, I apologize for any embarrassment I may have given the agency. It wasn't my intent to cast NASA in a bad light. When I wrote that article, I didn't believe it would be attributed to ..."

"David ..." Roger Ordimann regarded him with a paternal smile. "This isn't a formal board of inquiry, let alone an inquisition. We simply want to know ... well, at least I'd like to know ... how you drew your conclusions, and why you decided to publish them at this time."

"And who gave you clearance to do so," Morris added, much less warmly.

Murphy glanced across the table at the PAO deputy chief, and that was when he noticed a copy of the February issue of Analog resting before him. Not only that, but Ordmann and Cummisky also had copies. The very same science fiction magazine currently on sale in bookstores and newsstands across the country which, along with new stories by Michael F. Flynn, Paul Levinson, and Bud Sparhawk and book reviews by Tom Easton, also featured a nonfiction article by one David Z. Murphy: "How to Travel Through Time (And Not Get Caught)."

"So ..." Steepling his fingers together, Ordmann leaned back in his chair. "Tell us why you think UFOs may be time machines."


Excerpted from Chronospace by Allen Steele Copyright © 2002 by Allen Steele.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
PART 1 Monday Times Three 9
PART 2 " Where Angels Fear to Tread" 109
PART 3 Free Will 199
Afterword and Sources 317
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