Monday, December 15, 2014

Time Cops and Sharpshooters

Rickshaw, New Mexico, by Jon de Silva is a satisfying tale that incorporates elements of Hollywood Westerns and cop thrillers into a well-told story of time displacement. 

Continuing on my recent theme of time travel, this is a curious story of a Marine sniper scout, George Foster, who wakes up after a disastrous bender (Jack Daniels and a pyramid of empty beer cans were involved) to find himself in just-post-Civil War New Mexico, hung over in a jail cell.

Before I get too enthused, however, let me point out that the writing could have used a few more tenses. de Silva uses only present and simple past to spin his yarn of changing times. 

Used only to tell the tale of the time traveler's movements, or the time police who brought him to this distant place and time, it might have been effective. Used without exception, even to tell what is done, was done and had been done, this lack of additional tenses makes the writing slightly flat. 

Fortunately, the story soon overcomes the mono-tense presentation.

Rickshaw reminded me of the Cross-Time Engineer series by Leo Frankowski. Like Conrad Stargard, George Foster is transported against his desire to a past time, by an organization that is revealed, but never explained. Like Stargard, Foster overcomes the lack of technology to become a leading light in his community. 

Unlike Stargard, however, Foster is not conveniently given all kinds of useful stuff to take back in time with him. He doesn't have much with him at all, just his clothes and wallet, thanks to the aforementioned bender. 

Oh, and his sniper skills, which translate well to a Sharps dual-trigger rifle. (Remember the Sharps rifle carried by Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under? That's the one.)

If you like Clint Eastwood movies about cops or cowboys, if you loved The Magnificent Seven, forget the time-travel aspect. You'll enjoy this novel just as a Western with a steely-eyed man at its center. I did.