Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"The Time Roads"

Beth Bernobich is an American science fiction and fantasy author. Her short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Interzone, Strange Horizons, and Tor.com, among other places. Her books include the young adult fantasy Fox and Phoenix, the fantasy trilogy River of Souls, and the newly released The Time Roads.

Bernobich applied the Page 69 Test to The Time Roads and reported the following:
From page 69:
…Ó Deághaidh was evidently waiting for some kind of response. “I knew them all,” Síomón said. “In some cases, I knew more than I liked. It’s a large university, but a small department—the graduate department, that is.”

Ó Deághaidh nodded. “The Queen’s Constabulary is much like that.”

Síomón’s pulse gave a sudden painful leap. The Queen’s Constabulary of Éire normally concerned itself with only royal affairs. But then he remembered Maeve’s family. Lord Ó Cadhla was a high- ranking minister in Éire’s government and adviser to the queen. It was his influence, no doubt, that had brought Commander Ó Deághaidh to Awveline City.

“You look unsettled, Mr. Madóc.”

Síomón ran his hand over his face. “I am more than unsettled. I am distressed. It’s a hard thing, to hear that a friend has died.”

And you gave me that news without warning. Then watched to see how I acted.

But he knew better than to say so to a stranger, much less a member of the Queen’s Constabulary.
The Time Roads is an alternate history novel consisting of four linked stories, set in the early 20th century, in a world where Ireland is the world empire and England one of its dependencies. It's also a world where prime numbers have special properties and time travel is possible. Page 69 takes place early in the second story of the book, A Flight of Numbers Fantastique Strange, when a stranger first approaches Síomón Madóc with questions about a series of horrific murders taking place among Awveline University's mathematics students.

So does page 69 represent the book? Yes, I think so. While the story itself is centered on Awveline University and the murders, this conversation references all the important themes and characters throughout the book. Síomón is a graduate student in mathematics, and the subject of mathematics is present in all four stories. The stranger who approaches him is Commander Aidrean Ó Deághaidh, a former mathematics student himself and the Queen's spymaster. And the mention of the Queen and Lord Ó Cadhla are hints of the book's larger world.
Learn more about the book and author at Beth Bernobich's website.

--Marshal Zeringue