Broken Time


Maggy Thomas


Fantasy / Science Fiction


Date Reviewed:

May 3, 2005

roken Time is the first novel by Maggy Thomas. It is also the last book by her that I will read. It was a bad bad book. The novel starts out okay. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Siggy Lindquist, who works as a janitor in a maximum security prison for the criminally insane. She is assigned to mop the floors in a cell block where Commander Bell, Jerry Wolfe and the Professor are incarcerated. Thomas does a fine job depicting the menace of these dangerous men. And the second chapter is pretty good too, describing Siggy's childhood and an attack by the Speedies, a good introduction to her science fiction universe.

Unfortunately, the next 200 pages of the book retreat and fill in the entire backstory that finally returns us to the point in time where chapter 1 left off. It gives the impression that Thomas wrote a fine first chapter in a creative writing class, and then went off on her own to write the rest of the book and she got lost. The longer the book goes on, the worse it gets.

One huge problem with the novel is a complete lack of versimilitude. The novel doesn't seem to be on another planet in the distant future, instead, the novel sounds like it is set on 20th century Earth. Siggy sings Judy Garland and Patti Page songs. She celebrates Christmas and Halloween. She goes to the high school prom and does ballroom dancing. People who don't finish high school get a GED. Everyone eats Mexican food and has Swedish or Brazilian ancestors - does any of this sound like a brilliantly imagined future society? The Speedies and the Time Pockets seem like incidental extras. I got quite bored reading about YET ANOTHER group of people who are introduced to the wonders of ballroom dancing. The Speedies have potential to be an interesting, menacing aliens, but when they get into ballroom dancing, they are reduced to simply humans in alien clothes, just like a 1950's sci-fi movie.

Another big flaw is Siggy's endless mourning over her bad night at the senior prom. C'mon everyone has a some rough romantic moments in high school. But how many well adjusted people are still hurting SEVEN YEARS after they have a bad prom experience? Getting dumped is enough to cause you to forsake all men for that long? Grow up.

Siggy apparently is atuned to Time Pockets, weird, never-explained warps in the space time that people or objects can fall into. Once she inadvertently spends 30 years trapped inside a time pocket, while the rest of the universe carries on. The physicists are amazed and curious to know more. This is an amazing phenomena. So do they attach a million probes and watch Siggy every minute? No, she has to find a job and goes to work on a dangerous mining operation, where of course she wants to teach the roughnecks ballroom dancing.

It is impossible to believe that the Professor communicates with fellow inmate Jerry Wolfe with high speed speech that is some how undetected by the zealous Director who runs the facility. How is it that Jerry can understand such rapid speech, while Commander Bell, who has been augmented to Speedy speeds, apparently can not? In the end the nefarious plot of the Professor makes no sense whatsoever. The Speedies are reducing to boring aliens. This is not a universe where you wish to explore further. Instead, you are wonderfully thankful that you have finally reached that last page and that there is no more to follow.