|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
For more information, see scottspotson.com.
Also, check out his wizard middle-grade series, "My Wizard Buddy." The three titles are "My Wizard Buddy," "Wizard Planet," and "Target Earth."
Scott Spotson is also pleased to offer editing services to other authors, and has completed numerous ghost-writing contracts. See "Editing Services" on scottspotson.com.
Read an Excerpt
October 23, 2013 at 11:47 a.m.
Max Thorning, an investment salesman always in search of hefty commission fees stripped from the trust fund of that greying doctor who drove a Porsche on Sundays, was a man in a hurry. He exited the towering steel and glass skyscraper, in search of that tiny parkette that afforded a soothing oasis from the grimy concrete metropolis of Vancouver.
Garfield Yates, Max's skinny chrome-domed writer buddy, waved to him alongside their favorite park bench. It was a beautiful, sunny day, so Max and Garfield agreed to meet up for lunch. Garfield pulled a thick ham and egg sandwich out of a brown paper bag and offered a bite to Max.
Scrunching his mouth, Max declined, instead retrieving a greasy corned beef sandwich from the cardboard take-out box he'd brought. "How's the job hunt going?" Max asked in between bites of the bulging sandwich, a treat he savored once a week.
Garfield grimaced. "Not well. This morning, I just lay in bed, chowing down potato chips and listening to some old tunes. Remember the Bee Gees?"
"Oh man," Max laughed. "You still have them?"
"Yeah," Garfield chuckled. "I still have that old record player, too. It was actually in a box in my parents' house. They'd never bothered to throw it out."
Max shook his head, snapping to attention as Garfield squatted lower to pluck dropped crackers off the lawn. Groaning, Max shielded his eyes with one hand to block out an unwelcome "sneak peak" of the upper part of his friend's scrawny buttocks. Garfield, sadly, was living with his parents again. It was "temporary," he'd insisted, until he could get back on his feet.
As the lanky buddy plopped into his seat next to Max, he stuffed broken-up crackers into his mouth, and with the other hand tossed a folded newsletter into Max's lap.
"Look at this," he mumbled, barely comprehensible above the munching noises.
After Max snapped the crisp newsprint open, his eyes bugged. Right on the front page of their alumni newsletter, UBC Chat, blared a professional color photo of someone who seemed familiar. That square-shaped, rugged face, still boyish even in middle age. That blond curly hair. The stare of the man captivated him, conveying I'm important. Don't you forget it.
He was a star athlete back in my high school, wasn't he?
The headline answered his question.
Dr. Nathan Symes, August 28, 1971 — September 30, 2013.
Max read the article, which started off with, "Nathan Symes M.D. '98 Head of Cardiology at Vancouver General, and dedicated UBC fundraiser, passed away ..."
Wow. One of the guys from Confederation High — his old high school — had bitten the dust. So soon. Forty-two, just like Max, and he was already at one with his Maker. Same birth year. Same span of life.
Max's heart skipped a beat as he read the article further.
Suicide? What could possibly drive a guy to suicide? A successful doctor, too. With pieces of his frayed memories now drifting into place, Max remembered — Nathan had been voted "most likely to succeed."
Without warning, a sharp pain stabbed his gut as the Repressed Memory flashed in his mind; unwelcome, banished, and consigned to purgatory. The haunting image of a limp, lifeless body he knew to be Darlene Labrosse, who seconds prior was very much alive and screaming as he, an out-of-control drunk driver, swerved off the road.
He closed his eyes at the painful memory. When his eyes flickered open, they only showed a brooding, sullen mask that eclipsed his steely features.
"You okay, bud?"
Max shook his head no.
"It's that car crash again, right?"
Slowly, Max nodded once.
"Let it go," Garfield said, clasping Max's shoulder. Max tossed his half-eaten sandwich back into the take-out container and stared dead ahead at a statue of Captain George Vancouver, from behind, unthinking as he noted the copper-plated tricorn hat and waistcoat.
"I'm just not hungry," he muttered, and the two friends stared off into the distance, both unspeaking, yet communicating volumes.
October 23, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
Garfield watched the receding outline of Max Thorning as his longtime best friend returned to work, the shoulders on the retreating figure slumping.
Garfield snapped back to his line of sight targeting Max once more, just to be sure his friend wouldn't catch him passing judgment, however innocuous it might be. Satisfied, he slouched on the park bench, the best possible position to trigger constant, excruciating backache. Fortunately, no matter how many times his mother admonished him to "stand straight" — yes, the last time was just yesterday, when he'd chatted on the phone in the kitchen — his back miraculously resisted the abuse lavished upon his lumbar region.
He's haunted still by the horrific car crash, from '87.
Those eyes. Oh man. When he snaps into his funk, I might as well use a crowbar to spring him out. He shuts down. He mopes. I get it. He had too much to drink, and he was reckless the moment he seated himself in that '82 Mustang — but geez! It's been more than twenty years, and he still can't let go.
Garfield smiled as he pictured fifteen-year-old Max reclining back in his chair in geography class, cracking jokes with the befuddled teacher, Mr. Stadnicki. How he'd grab some friends, both guys and gals, and head off to Wreck Beach to do some skinny-dipping at midnight.
Plus, that expulsion from college. Since then, Max hasn't been the same jovial, black-slapping guy I'd known in high school.
I admire Max, I really do. But he has to believe in himself again.
How ironic, then, that the guy who professes to be the most shining example of Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People — would be holding a match to that revered book with a wicked grin on his face.
October 23, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.
Max entered Raymond's Used Bookstore, still in a funk over two untimely preoccupations; one, the lunchtime brutal reminder of the horrific car crash decades ago, and two, Dr. Hartley Mortimer's secretary calling to say he would not be signing on to be Max's client, but instead would keep his investments "safe" with his bank.
After more than two months since his last visit, he sought refuge within this anachronism, a musty old secondhand bookshop that still persisted amidst all those ephemeral electronic enterprises that promised you the moon with a click on the keypad, but offered you no engaging, warm sanctuary where you could browse to your heart's content while the owners forked over every penny of their meager profits to pay for the lease of those bricks and mortars.
Shit, Max thought, unable to keep his mind off the defeat. Dr. Mortimer has over $1.2 million in net assets and earns $325,000 a year from his family practice. After more than twenty years in the sales business, Max could calculate the commission within a thousand dollars right away. Lost $15,000 in commission, plus a chance to keep earning trailer fees so long as that physician lives and breathes and rakes in money. Numbers, it was all about the numbers. The figures that danced in his head, those that he scanned on a client's rumpled papers during a visit, and those that magically appeared in his commission account. He craved the human contact that came from just sitting down and chatting with a husband and wife about their lifestyle, but couldn't stop feeling that all these ones and zeroes were imaginary, a figment of an illusory world that could vanish any moment.
A sudden spell of vertigo seized him, and he stumbled to one side, resting his hand on a stack of dusty old books. The motion sickness passed, and he glanced at the object that'd steadied his wobble. It was one of those pale blue, cloth-covered hardback tomes of a bygone era, when milkmen completed their rounds and when Prince Albert Crimp Cut Tobacco sold in a tin can.
Intrigued, Max picked up the book, feeling the woven-cloth texture of the cover and glanced at the cover. Account of Time Travel on Earth Using Wave Theory, by Medicus Tempus.
Whoa. Weird title.
Inserting his thumbnail, he opened to the front page:
General Elliptical Principles of Time, Simplified
Time is a puzzle, and this book is intended for those who are creative thinkers, longing for a solution.
Time has been described in many different ways. Some say Time is flexible, and can be commoditized, as you would measure furlongs and pecks. They are incorrect. Time marches to its own drummer. It cannot be varied, cannot be manipulated by any agent, and cannot be violated. It can only be studied and respected – indeed, Time is our Master.
Time, hence, is rarely tranquil, yielding several emerging viewpoints – even now. Many individuals necessarily originate numerous assumptions, subject to rigorous evaluation each time.
In his works on Time, the astrophysicist J. Rosenfeld described Time by the formula....
Unreal. This guy sounds like time travel is long-settled scientific fact.
He flipped to the halfway point in the weighty tome.
Underneath a heading titled "Exhibit A" the photo, crystal clear in vivid color, seized his full attention and triggered fear.
It was a photo of him as a kid.
What? How did that get in there?
Eyes bugging out, he gasped again, redoubling his focus.
The photo showed him on his knees on — yes, he instantly recognized the orange-and-red patterned area rug of his childhood home and the teal-splashed wall framing his outline. That baseboard, with the flat slab, then the two-step grooves atop. His Brio train set, his favorite as a young boy.
Who's the sicko that put this in the book?
His white-knuckled fingers grasping the book hard, he glanced at the caption underneath the photo:
Max Thorning, July 17, 1977, 16:34:1904
I was six years old then!
My parents have never showed me this photo before! They've showed me hundreds of childhood photos, all lovingly preserved in worn-out albums, but this is a new one! Did they lose this one back when I was a kid? If so, how did this creep get his hands on it?
Dread twisted his stomach as he jumped to the next logical thought: How did this psychopath know I would pick up this book? How long had he been waiting for me?
Another chill enveloped him; ice coursed throughout his veins as he thought of another perverted notion:
Did this creep actually come into my living room when I was a child, hide out, and snap this photo without me knowing? And wait thirty-five years to shock the shit out of me?
He closed the book, his finger still firmly wedged on the page of that damning photo. Answers, I need answers, right now! I know the clerk wouldn't have a clue, but he's worked here ever since it opened.
Darting past the haphazard shelves of musty, dusty, old books, Max made his way to the cashier. An old-fashioned cash register with brass keys sat on a glass counter that was nearly covered with stacks of books. The thin, wiry old man with feathery wisps of white hair was engrossed in an ancient tome of his own.
"What's the meaning of this?" Max demanded using a volume between forceful denunciation and a shout, holding the front cover of the book upright in front of the clerk's wrinkled face.
Eyebrows rising, the clerk yanked up his chin. As Max waited a few seconds, heart beating fast, the elderly man peered over his wire-rimmed spectacles, studying what Max held.
"I'm not sure what you're referring to, sir."
"This," Max growled, opening the book at his finger bookmark. Peering sideways, he awaited the splash of vivid color that marked the photo. His heart sank as he realized it had disappeared.
"Is there something offensive in there?" the man grumbled, shaking his head. "If you want me to read it, you'll have to bring it closer. Keep in mind, though —"
"No!" a horrified Max exclaimed. "There was a photo in there!" Turning the book around to himself, he thumbed through the pages like a madman, searching for the damning photo. "Just a minute, just a minute ..."
Huffing, the clerk returned to the book he'd been reading.
Max's synapses lit on fire. Did I imagine the whole thing? How could I possibly "see" something I'd never seen before?
After a minute of examining the entire mysterious book, he sighed and his shoulder drooped. "Sorry. I don't know what I was thinking."
The old man didn't bat an eye, not looking up. "Don't worry about it."
"Can I buy this book, though?"
This time, the clerk snapped, "All books on display are for sale."
"Right," Max said, hesitating. He glanced to the back, and saw the handwritten sticker price, the tiny paper no bigger than half an inch. $15.75.
He handed the clerk his credit card and waited as the man pulled out an old-fashioned credit card reader from under the counter. The guy placed the card in the metal tray and ran the arm across it, making an imprint on the carbon paper slip below.
"I didn't know you can still use those things for credit cards," Max offered, more surprised than critical.
"Time changes many things, but it doesn't mean it's always for the better."
He slid the credit card form to Max, and placed a ballpoint pen on top. Max signed it, the clerk tore off a copy, handing it to Max and then placing the book in a brown paper bag.
Max shrugged off the dismissal, the mystery over his apparent hallucination now crowding out the despondent setbacks he'd had today.
July 17, 1977, it said.
October 23, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.
The moment he entered his suburban two-storey house, he sidestepped the baseball gloves and tossed-aside jackets lying on the stairs and dashed upstairs, a man on a mission. He thought of heading straight to his bedroom, but relented as he spotted his twelve-year-old daughter, Angela, at her dresser, gesturing in front of a propped-up tablet computer. She didn't seem surprised to see her father walk into her room and signed to him, "Wait a sec, I'm talking to Courtney."
Max stepped into the room to see Angela's friend on the screen. He waved and Courtney wiggled her fingers back at him.
Angela was born deaf at a very good time, if there ever was one.
He marveled at the ease in which Angela signed conversations with Courtney, a hearing classmate. Angela had taught her friend sign language.
Had she been born during my time, she would have had no Internet ... no amazing devices to help her, like the captions on the TV ...
After two minutes, Angela finished. She shut off the videoconference, and stood to hug her father. Proficient in sign language, Max conversed easily with Angela and her deaf friends.
"Guess what, Daddy?" Angela said, her hands a blur, "I qualified for the track and field team today!"
A wide grin spread across Max's face as he signed, "Congratulations! Way to go!"
After they'd signed for several minutes, Brandon came in, holding up Abby's smartphone.
"Daddy," he said, "can you take me now?"
Max knew right away from the digital map on the screen that Brandon wanted a ride to find a geocache too far to reach by bike. Geocaching was the digital age equivalent of orienteering, and Brandon devoted nearly all his spare time to his new hobby, eager to find the treasure in every box. It wasn't the value of the treasure — usually a few marbles, an ornamental key chain, or a Lego figurine — that enthralled the boy, rather it was the thrill of the hunt.
"Just a minute, Brandon," Max said, "there's something I have to do first." Eager to re-explore childhood, he badly wanted to take his son out, but that unnerving hallucination with the photo still drove him to seek answers. Passing Brandon's bedroom, Max strode down the hallway to his closet, opened the doors, and found the large box he'd been looking for.
Ah. Good timing. His mother'd just given him a boxful of photo albums, 8mm reels, and tiny frames of yellowed photos from his childhood. "It's time," she had told him. "I safeguarded these for you for years, but something could happen to me. They're yours now."
"Oh Mom," he had said back, holding warm gratitude in his heart. "Nothing will ever happen to you. But thank you. I'll take good care of them." They hugged, sealing the deal.
July 17, 1977 ... which one is it?
Am I imagining things? Maybe I should go out with Brandon. No. I saw the photo. I couldn't possibly imagine something I've never seen before so clearly.
Excerpted from "Life II"
Copyright © 2018 Scott Spotson.
Excerpted by permission of Scott Spotson.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very entertaining, very poignant tale of a man given a chance to have a "do-over" for his life. Max Thorning is a 42-year old, average joe with a decent job, a so-so marriage, and two loving kids. He stumbles over a curious old book one day and it leads him to the Time Weaver and a Dr. Time, who tells Max he can go back in time, to a point of his choosing. Max, whose job is steady, but unfulfilling, and stuck in a marriage that has gone stale, jumps at the chance to go back in time and start himself on the path that he thinks will lead to happiness and fulfillment. He goes back in time to his 16-year old self, long before he meets his wife, long before his children are born, long before he has even chosen his career path. He relishes the fact that it is a new start for him. However, he soon realizes that, rather than making just small changes to his current life, having to do over the past 26 years of his life has profound consequences, some for the better, others for the worse. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and easily identified with Max's character. I enjoy time-travel tales, and this was one that was immensely fun to read and speculate - "If you could go back into your childhood or adolescence, and change the pathways of your life, what would you change? Would you want to?" Awesome book and I highly recommend it to anyone.
I’m reminded of a song by Anna Nalick. It’s called “Breathe” and I’m sure you’ve heard it. Part of the lyrics say “life’s like an hourglass glued to the table, no one can find the rewind button, boys…” But what if you could? What changes would you make in your life if you could hit that rewind button and do it all over again? And, if you did, how would those changes affect the people you knew in your other life? What if your new life didn’t live up to your expectations? Like the flutter of the wings of a butterfly, would the ramifications of your do-over make the world a better place or do irreparable damage? These are the questions and challenges Max Thorning faces when he decodes a mysterious ancient text leading him to the “Time Weaver.” Suffering a mid-life crisis, dissatisfied with his job and his marriage, Max is given the chance to relive his life from the time he is a teenager. Still retaining the memories from his first life, he’s determined to right the wrongs and regrets that have plagued him. Mr. Spotson has done an incredible job of weaving together all the intricate details of this complex study of possibilities. My eyes were glued to the pages as I became emotionally involved with Max’s character and his journey through two lives. The completely believable supporting players as well as the well written, natural dialogue added to the experience and allowed me to immerse myself in the story line eager to see the outcome of each challenge. I highly recommend this book to anyone who’s ever said, “If I had the chance to do it all again…”
Go back in time with the knowledge of the future? Sure, first order of business—stop the creation of Furbies! Max Thorning is forty-two years old, with a life ... A real life! After making a discovery, which in my eyes was a perfect prelude to Max's adventure, he is given a chance to make good or bad of his life...two. For me, character development is tricky business, and sometimes in writing, characters are molded from a prefabricated notion of what they should be. A hard nosed detective should always be a drunk. A life long dancer should always be tortured and prone to injury. Sprinkle a little tarragon upon their head and you have a totally new and engaging character—nope. As some of the other reviewers noted, I too feel Max was portrayed very real. Yes, sometimes he makes decisions that are irrational and on other occasions, he makes the perfect move, but this is what makes us genuine. I'm not one of those people that reads a book and accepts everything as it happens, I want to feel that the characters made realistic decisions, however wrong or right they were, it doesn't matter to me, just as long as it all seems plausible. And I'm sorry, but going back in time to play the stock market or igniting a series of events that cures world hunger, isn't what happens, and under the sun that plot has been done. No, Max is in many ways real and flawed, just as we all are. About the plot. I turn "fan boy" when I read a good story, and this chain of events was, yes long, but the satiety of it leaves you more glad than regretful. I could have taken more from the author, but in no ways, was it needed. My favorites: unexpected meetings, future altering stoppages, future follies, and most important—it was all believable. Scott Spotson is in many ways—Max's Dr. Time. He has Max strung up at the elbows with fishing line and dances him through time effortlessly, coherently, and above all, entertainingly. This novel is a standard for the care and intelligence that an author should place into a work of art. Paying attention to detail is an understatement for this guy. This plot is smooth like sliding your butt along some velvet, slathered in whipped butter! If you want to read a Science Fiction book with a time travel premise, which in a multitude of ways was created to stand alone, then please pick this one up. You will not regret it.
Interesting characters and plot.... Difficult to put down,... Curiosity got me thru the sluggish story. Bingaux
Interesting story, well written and enjoyable
I do like time travel books, but all i can give this one is three stars. Most assuredly it is drawn out and could have been condensed to make it more enjoyable for this reader. The in plot jumping around within the various lives was a bit confusing...not certain why certain things happened or turned out as they did.
If you could go back to any point in your past, what point would you choose? Spotson puts a new twist on a plot line that has been used frequently in film and literature. If you had your life to do over again, what would you do differently? Max heads to his 16 year old self and makes choices that he knows impact the timeline of where his life is plotted to go. More interesting to this reader, Max and I are of an age. I’m a couple of months older than he and I relate to his character is experience of era and progression. Consistency in a very complex story-line seems to be Spotson’s strong suit. Subjective matter aside, Spotson’s style once he gets going is quite fluid and flawlessly done. I’m not the person to ask if the scientific aspects are logical. This is science fiction so I have to think there’s a lot of creativity involved but it has the ring of truth (beyond the truly far fetched aspects) and that has to be difficult to accomplish. I have a lot of respect for anyone who puts the kind of work Spotson clearly did into his novel. That said, I’m not sure that I would go back for a second read. If you like intelligent sci-fi novels, Life II may be the novel for you.
LIFE II is a thoroughly entertaining trip through 25 years of a very personal timeline. Max, at an unhappy 42 years-of-age, caught in a well-paid but unfulfilling job, the father of two great kids and the husband of a loveless wife, is offered a dangerous opportunity that many of us have probably fantasized about. What if you could relive a section of your life by jumping back to a particular instant in your past? And what if you could bring all your current memories and life experiences with you? Would you choose to do it? The story that flows from his fateful choice proves to be a thoughtful, turbulent, and often poignant, second-time ride through a life. Rather than just another interesting time-travel novel, I found LIFE II to be a fresh study in human behavior and family dynamics. LIFE II unfolds in a very methodical way once Max’s choice is put into effect. Unconsidered details and incidental consequences plague him as he stumbles through his first few weeks in his old life at high school. Mr. Spotson’s writing is very good and his knowledge of human interaction sparkles throughout. Some of the most powerful moments of Max’s journey were found in his struggles to deal with the unrecoverable personal losses his choice had caused. Less satisfying for me were the parts that dealt with the vintage book about time-wave theory and the unusual character who controlled the actual time device. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the old multi-lingual book itself, but its purpose was confusing, and I wondered if this was really the best way to discover time travel volunteers? I mean, how many book buyers did they expect would start searching for a code within the book? It all struck me as terribly convoluted and unreal but, I have to say, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the code-breaking sequence, and I cheerfully read right on from there anyway. On the other hand, the alien time devices and the explanations for how they worked, was delightful. Every historian and time travel aficionado would love to get their hands on a Time Weaver – imagine the historic moments you could check out in 3-D and full color! (If nothing else, you’d be sorely tempted to check out Cleopatra and Helen of Troy!) Finally, I want to offer a brief comment about Lucinda Cedrera, the disgruntled time traveler who was absolutely convinced of a nefarious alien plot. I actually think she was a helpful addition to widen the focus of the story beyond Max’s life and to intensify the last portion of the novel. Unfortunately, she felt exaggerated and, I believe, she appeared too late in the story. In addition, her arguments needed to be more convincing. So, there you are, I’ve praised a bit and complained a bit, but I want to summarize very clearly. Overall, this is a wonderful book. I enjoyed the read a great deal and had abundant empathy for Max and his never-ending dilemma. I found myself mentally rolling through my own life and imagining the pros and cons of a life re-lived – and the immensity of what I would lose and the exhaustion of making the attempt. Good books make you do that. My negatives about LIFE II are picky and trivial compared to the overwhelming value I found in the novel. I highly recommend this book.
Having previously reviewed Replay by Ken Grimwood, I was approached by the author to provide a review of this book which uses a similiar premise. Max Thorning is 42 and in a rut with his life. He works as an Auditor, is married to a woman he really doesn't love and has two young children. One day he finds an old book about the theory of time travel. He is obsessed with the book and finds some patterns that lead him to an address in Athens, Greece. Max encounters Dr. Time who has a time machine that can both let him view any event of the past and to transfer his concious to an earlier version of himself. Max feels he wants a total career change and that he would want to go to Medical School. That would require having a different high school curriculum so he decides to go back to when he was 16. Dr. Time warns him that if does that everyghing that happened in his life will change which means that his children would cease to exist. Max thinks there would be a way around this and decides to go ahead. Max takes a totally different path in his teenage life. Some of the things he does have little effect on anything and some things change his friends and family and some things cause a wider effect. Max calls his new life "Life II" and he previous life "Life I." Life II consists of Max trying to create a better life and not repeat mistakes that he knows what will happen. This includes using his "adult" intelligence to act as marriage counseler to his parents, trying to have his sister make a better life for herself and finding out if he can really go through with remarrying his wife from Life I. This book is fairly large but it is a real fast read. The author explores a lot of philosophical as well as psychological issues that Max faces and the inner torment he faces with things like losing his kids and sometimes "adversely" affecting those he knew in Life I. I found the book difficult to put down. I could not give this book a full five stars because several things are not resolved (perhaps there will be a sequel to this book). Also, I found it unbelieveable that Max would have such an obsession with the old book that he drops all he is doing to go to Athens and then with limit thought agrees to go back to he early self.
The idea behind Life II is an interesting one--a time travel device that lets you go back to some point in your life and start over, and some parts of this book are very engrossing. It's a bit long and could be edited down to make a more flowing story. Some of the facts and numbers portrayed may daunt some readers. The main character, Max, decides to "do over" his life (with somewhat disastrous results in the beginning.) He tries to change things and is sometimes successful, but mostly, he learns that he really can't change much. The problem with the character of Max though, is he is a pretty one-dimensional guy, he is very self-absorbed and doesn't seem to mature much his second time around in Life II, and it's hard to root for him. This story would resonate better if I had more sympathy for Max and his plight.