What if your passion was Roman history, Pompeii and Latin and you were offered a chance to be immersed in the culture? What if that culture was composed of actual Roman’s because a company named NovusPart had begun to understand how to move people through time?
Of course, you would go to work with NovusPart which is exactly what Dr. (he’s working on it) Nick Houghton does. The issue is: NovusPart has only figured out how to move people forwards in time, not backwards. What about all the theories of ripples in the timeline? Well, NovusPart says they only move people forwards in time who are about to die and will have no effect on the future timeline. Their test project was a flight that was about to crash. And of course, Pompeii was full of people who were about to die. Right?
When Nick arrives at his six-week position he’s taken to New Pompeii. It seems to be a thriving version of the ancient city destroyed by volcanic ash. The city’s residents, actual Romans who were snatched from death at just the right moment, believe the staff of NovusPart represent Caesar himself and are endowed with God-like capabilities. Their belief in all the smoke and mirrors helps to keep them in line. For the most part, things seems to be working the way they should although there are some challenges. Residents can no longer freely leave the city. There is no port for people to work in. NovusPart has come up with some explanations, reasonable for a while it seems.
At the same time as Nick is exploring, Kirsten awakens in her bathtub choking. She awakens again and again in the same situation and can’t help wondering if she’s losing her mind. It isn’t until Mr. Black sees her and reveals her involvement with McMahon of NovusPart that she accepts she’s a time traveler skipping through time. But why? What reason is there for her to be snatched from her present and shot through the future like she’s riding a skipping stone. And how is it possible to solve the mystery while slipping through time.
Nick quickly discovers some strange things about New Pompeii. As he begins to explore he senses distrust. Some people treat the NovusPart employees with reverence, but it’s not natural. Then he meets Calpurnia, daughter of Pompeii’s duumvir and finds out there are mistakes in the way new Pompeii has been created. Some people may be beginning to think that there is something wrong with the world they are living in. That cracks begin to show.
“New Pompeii” explores the extremes of what might be possible if a corporation had the ability to influence the past in any way. If evil minds are controlling the power of time travel then what might happen? What if Hitler could be removed before he was able to do any damage? Would someone replace him? Would there be implications in the future?
This is a treat for fans of well-thought out science fiction. There are twists and turns that are dizzying but it’s an enjoyable ride.
For those of you who might be time travel geeks like me, there is some real exploration of the philosophical ethics of time travel. I was reminded of Nagel’s essay, “What It’s Like To Be A Bat.” Check the essay out after you read, “New Pompeii”.
Great book, well thought-out plot and there’s even more good news: there’s a sequel coming next year!