Tag Archive: Peter Clines


I love time travel novels: they’re challenging to write and fun to read. There are inventive plot twists, creative time machines, and tons of historical trivia. Paradox Bound, the new novel by Peter Clines, is all that and much more. According to Clines, he’d spent more years writing Paradox Bound than he did any other book – and that certainly shows!

It’s tough to describe the plot without giving away the wonderful, delicious surprises, so I’ll just state the very basics. It’s a story about a Millennial guy named Eli who lives in a boring small town in Maine and who has a crush on the mysterious woman who passes through every few years, wearing antique outfits and driving a souped-up Ford Model A. It’s a story about America and its history, both the heroic past and the uncertain future. It’s a story about a community of time travelers (or “history travelers,” as they prefer to be called) who travel through history in their antique cars. (Similar to Chuck Palahniuk’s “Rant,” only with less NC-17 content.) It’s a story about the pursuit of a dream above all else.

It also features faceless government men, an ancient Egyptian god, the Founding Fathers, and subtle references to every other novel Clines has ever written. The many, many plot twists kept me glued to the book: some of them could be guessed, while others were both beautiful and brilliant in their complexity. It helps that Clines used to be a Hollywood writer and knows his way around pacing, dialogue and overall structure – the book flows like a dream. (Or like the 2030 Tesla X!)

The only other time travel novel I’ve read that achieved this level of beauty and twisted complexity is The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold, an underappreciated 1973 masterpiece that was ahead of its time. Clines left enough loose ends for there to be a sequel, which I’ll await most eagerly.

Paradox Bound also touches on some deeper themes. There is an interesting encounter with a folk hero from the 19th century whose story is told from a different angle. There’s the uncomfortable fact that female time travelers have a much easier time if they disguise themselves as men in their trips to the past. There’s an interesting subplot of cops forcing another cop to sign a document that would permanently change his life. (And not for the better.) The book doesn’t preach, but it gives more than enough food for thought to its careful readers.

One word of caution: there are a couple of mild adult moments in the novel, so you may not want to give it your 8-year-old – wait until they hit their teenage years. If, however, you’re buying this book for yourself and if you enjoy time travel yarns, inventive plots, and strong female characters with low tolerance for nonsense, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

I give this book five out of five stars.

Full disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Buy Paradox Bound on Amazon

Peter Clines’s books are always addictive, unpredictable and beautifully crafted. His latest novel, “The Fold,” follows that pattern and may be his greatest book yet.

Meet Leland Erikson. He goes by “Mike,” which is a nickname for a nickname, and he’s one of the smartest people in the world. In addition to having sky-high IQ, he also has perfect recall. Instead of developing his talents, however, he teaches English in a small high school, choosing to lead a normal life instead of that of a dissatisfied genius. His well-established routine changes when an old friend from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) pays a visit and asks for a favor… A team of scientists developed a teleportation device that works perfectly fine, but something might be off about the scientists themselves.

The premise appears to be fairly simple. After all, teleportation is one of science fiction’s most popular tropes. (Who among us hasn’t heard “Beam me up, Scotty”?) In his usual manner, however, Clines takes that concept, turns it inside out and changes it into something completely novel and unrecognizable. Writing anything about the “how” behind his teleportation machine would bring spoilers, so suffice to say that it doesn’t quite work the way you (or any of the characters) would expect. The seemingly benign technology has a strange origin, stranger implications, and it just might destroy the world as we know it – and it’s up to Mike Erikson to save the day.

Each of the Fold’s characters is well developed and given their own personality, which, unfortunately, isn’t something one can see in every sci-fi book. From grumpy scientists to Star Trek-obsessed technicians, by the end of the book you feel like you’ve known each of them for ages. The dialogue sounds unforced and natural, with regular, everyday interactions interspersed between mysteries and action scenes. (Which are amazingly well written, by the way.)

Perhaps the main challenge was writing the protagonist in a way that would be easy to relate to and show just how brilliant he is. That’s not always an easy task: after all, we all remember the cringe-worthy, chipmunk-like character of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: TNG. Mike (short for “Mycroft,” for obvious reasons) is written in a way that makes him easy to follow and understand. The metaphor he uses for his prodigious brain is ants: tiny memory ants carrying pieces of information back and forth. He’s not always right, and his flashed of insight are well explained as he goes about saving the day using mostly his brain, not brawn.

In order to make this an objective review, I tried to find some negatives or things that could use improvement, but I haven’t been able to think of any. The Fold is a straight-up, shoot-from-the-hip sci-fi masterpiece, with mad scientists, reclusive geniuses, bizarre technology, doomsday threats and plot twists you’ll never be able to predict.

(Full disclaimer: I received a free advance review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Score: 5 stars

Pre-order on Amazon (release date: June 2, 2015)