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by Albert E. Cowdrey

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Centuries ago, the Time of Troubles left Earth shattered and nearly empty. But a few survivors in Central Asia and returnees from Luna City hung on to bring the human race back to life. Now the Government of the Universe is spread out among hundreds of worlds. Genghis Khan is idolized as the Great Unifier of Humanity, and democracy is a long-forgotten notion. Old


Centuries ago, the Time of Troubles left Earth shattered and nearly empty. But a few survivors in Central Asia and returnees from Luna City hung on to bring the human race back to life. Now the Government of the Universe is spread out among hundreds of worlds. Genghis Khan is idolized as the Great Unifier of Humanity, and democracy is a long-forgotten notion. Old racial and religious divisions have been swept away by the rising oceans which lap around the Appalachian Islands, and peace abounds throughout the stars.

Into this glorious golden age comes a new threat. Scientists in the World City of Ulanor have created a wormhole generator-a machine which can send people into the past. A band of Old Believers, bleeding hearts, and other malcontents who call themselves "the Crux" have captured the generator to undertake the greatest humanitarian mission of all time: to stop the Time of Troubles by assassinating the man responsible, the legendary Minister Destruction.

Of course, Crux has to be stopped. Even the smallest change to the past will destroy the future-and the Controller of Earth won't stand for that.

The agents of the Office for the Exploration of the Past-Pastplor-work to thwart Crux and other sociopaths, criminals, and do-gooders who would jeopardize the fragile peace so hard won. Their missions spanning a wide array of vividly imagined futures, Pastplor's agents protect the past from those who would dare to meddle. The time-travelers are hailed as saviors of humanity-but cannot escape the feeling that they're on the wrong side of the war.

Schemes, betrayals, adventure, and satire blend in this delightful debut novel in the spirit of Poul Anderson's classic Time Patrol stories and Fritz Leiber's The Big Time. Albert E. Cowdrey is a bold new voice in science fiction.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Albert E. Cowdrey's debut science fiction novel, Crux, is set on a 25th-century Earth ruled by unparalleled tyranny and decadence. After the enigmatic Time of Troubles in the late 21st century (where 12 billion people died in an apocalyptic conflict between the world's superpowers), humankind has slowly risen from the ashes and now, four centuries later, has colonized hundreds of worlds and made extraordinary scientific breakthroughs -- including time travel.

But when a wormhole generator is stolen by a group of radicals who call themselves Crux -- their mission is to go back in time and reverse the worst calamity in human history -- the lives of trillions of people are put in jeopardy. If one of the revolutionaries succeeds in traveling back in time to just before the Time of Troubles and somehow changes history, every single person in the 25th century could be instantly wiped out as if they never existed at all. When the members of Crux are caught before they can do any damage, a security force of time surfers is created whose job it is to travel back and forth through time to prevent others from altering history. But who is watching the watchers?

The four interconnecting stories that make up Cowdrey's Crux are filled with enough time paradoxes to keep readers fascinated until the very end. Fans of time travel novels like Michael Swanwick's Bones of the Earth and Harry Turtledove's Crosstime Traffic series (Gunpowder Empire and Curious Notions) should enjoy Cowdrey's brutally dark look at our future. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Earth in the 25th century has been resettled by its space colonies after the 2091-2093 Time of Troubles nearly devastated humanity's home planet in Cowdrey's dark SF debut. From Ulanor, "the capital of the human race," Colonel Yamashita's fearsome KGB-style Security Service controls hundreds of inhabited worlds in an effort to prevent such a disaster from happening again-even if it means liquidating most of the population. When "some idiots at the University" in Ulanor build a wormhole generator called "the Crux," a subversive gaggle of Old Believers, do-gooders and other agitators use it to send an agent back in time to block events that ignited the Time of Troubles. With four attempts to change the past by dizzyingly shifting combinations of conspirators, the narration becomes chronologically dyspeptic. Characters melt frenetically from "good" to "bad" and back again, and even Cowdrey's flattish protagonist, Hastings Maks, loses definition. Cowdrey evidently intended Alspeke, a mishmash of Earth's old tongues and now humanity's common language, to give an exotic as well as Orwellian flavor, but its heavy Russian component necessitates momentum-damping translations. A few tragi-ludicrous sexual situations, like the all-powerful near-mummified Controller Xian's lust for young men, help lighten the novel's otherwise oppressive atmosphere. (Dec. 16) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Centuries after the Time of Troubles nearly decimated human life on Earth, civilization has rebuilt itself and spread to the stars, leaving the home planet as a repository for animals and minimal human occupation. When the Old Believers, a group of discontents, send an agent into the past to stop the advent of the Time of Troubles, they launch a chain of events that leads to an unforeseen destiny. Right and wrong become blurred in Cowdrey's time-travel adventure that explores serious issues of conservation and human destiny while providing nonstop action and intrigue. A strong first novel for most sf collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cowdrey's SF debut: a conflation of four time-travel stories, some previously published in magazines. In the 25th century, democracy is a long-forgotten concept: the Controller, ancient, sex-obsessed Xian Xi-Qing, rules the world from the city Ulanor. Her security chief, Colonel Yamashita, learns that a subversive group known as the Crux has stolen a just-invented time machine. It has sent operative Dyeva back to 2091, the year when a ghastly world war killed 12 billion people and laid the foundations of the current harsh, repressive regime. Yamashita launches his old pal, the ne'er-do-well agent Steffens Alexander, back in time to stop Dyeva. Reality survives, but not in the way that history assumes. Yamashita quickly founds an agency to produce timesurfers, agents dedicated to protecting the past (lest the present be changed also, wiping everybody out). Agent Hastings Maks and his half-alien sidekick Zo Lian, dispatched to 2050, must locate archcriminal Loki and interfere with his plans to change the past: things work out, but not as Maks expects. In another adventure, Maks must unravel the plot behind the kidnapping of his own son, Sandi; and finally he must unmask a conspiracy to kill the Controller and depose the current leadership-and find a way to save himself and his family from the war that ensues. Cowdrey's time-travel notions, clinging to orthodox cause-and-effect, offer as few surprises as his nasty, brutish, but otherwise undistinguished Asian-Russian-American future society. Pedestrian stuff, especially when (unavoidably) compared with Kage Baker's brilliant series (The Life of the World to Come (p. 988, etc.).

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 9.04(h) x 1.21(d)

Meet the Author

Albert E. Cowdrey is a retired historian living in New Orleans. His novelette "Queen for a Day" won the World Fantasy Award in 2002.

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