Here, There and Everywhere


Chris Roberson


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

December 29, 2006

ere, There and Everywhere is the story of Roxanna Bonadventure. When she is eleven years old, an ancient, dying woman gives her a magical bracelet called Sofia. The Sofia locks around Roxanna’s wrist, and proves to be a marvelous machine that allows her to traverse through the infinite multiverse. Roxanna can go anywhere in time and space, she can see dinosaurs, she see alternate universes where humans never developed but avians became civilized, etc. All of infinity is open to her. It is an exciting idea, pretty much any adventure is possible.

Unfortunately, Chris Roberson botches the execution of an idea filled with so much possibility. Here, There and Everywhere is not a novel. It appears to be a series of short stories that were originally published in SF magazines - each chapter features Roxanna and Sofia, her time machine, but there is no overall plot, just a series of adventures featuring Roxanna. In one chapter Roxanna has an Indiana Jones style adventure confronting Nazis in Egypt at an archaeological site. In another chapter, she meets H.G. Wells. In other chapter she goes into the future to find medicines that will cure her dying dad. But the Roxanna is too smug, too self assured. Confronted with danger, the Sofia will always slip Roxanna into an alternate universe where the Roxanna is safe - ie: Roxanna will be transported to a universe where the bullet misses or the villan stumbles or the speeding automobile swerves at the last second. This makes Roxanna invulnerable, and thus boring. Roxannaa is never in any danger, and she knows it and acts like it. When confronted with enemies, she reacts with self-assured nonchalance. This defuses the stories of any drama.

One of the rules of time travel is that a character can not go back in time to visit a younger version of herself - this is the famous Grandfather Paradox - meaning you can’t go back in time and shoot your grandfather, or else you will never be born. But Roberson does just that - the older Roxanna goes back in time to give her younger self the Sofia device. If Roxanna gives herself the bracelet, where did it come from originally? Roberson adds some mumbo-jumbo about Roxanna moving into the 5th dimension to resolve this paradox, but his lame explanation fails to convince - Roxanna gets to the 5th dimension because she has the Sofia, and while in the 5th dimension, she creates the Sofia. Roberson would have been better off avoiding this subject rather than offering this uninspired "explanation" for the Sofia.

At the end of the book Roxanna laments that she is always alone. A lifetime of amazing experiences, but she never shared them with a soulmate. What a bunch of whining - there is nothing that prevents Roxanna from bringing someone with her through the time bridge - one of her favorite tricks is to kick the bad guys through the portal back to the era of velicoraptors. So if Roxanna is alone, it is because she chooses to be alone. Indeed, possession of the Sofia doesn’t mean Roxanna has to use it - if she wanted to settle down in one timeline like everyone else, then do so! But quit whining. It is just another character flaw in Roxanna.

Why doesn't Roxanna go back to the time of Jesus or Moses or Julius Caesar? Why not witnesses the greatest moments in history - Thermopylae, Waterloo, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Wright brothers first flight, the building of the pyramids - why is Roxanna so incurious? Her lack of intellectual curiousity makes her an uninteresting character.

There are much better time travel stories available, such as the wonderful Anubis Gates by Timothy Powers or the equally delightful The Time Travellers Wife. Indeed, H.G. Wells the Time Machine is more entertaining than this derivative stuff. I was not impressed by this book