THIS BOOK IS NOW OUT OF PRINT. ONLY A FEW COPIES REMAIN IN STOCK AT THE UK BRANCH
Last year, Alan Reece, an unassuming animal doctor from the West Country, was surprised to discover that he had become the ‘Conduit’, a link between reality and the strange world beyond. Not even beginning to understand this, Alan deals with this problem as he deals with most in his life - he ignores it.
Unfortunately, ripples from his unwitting transformation have freed a dark and terrible creature from its improbable prison. Burrowing into the past, it plots revenge from Ancient Britain, and only Earth’s reluctant Conduit has any chance of stopping it.
Now Alan and his friends - a medium-turned-physicist, and a self-confessed ‘bum’ - are wishing that they paid a little more attention during Roman history lessons at school, and Alan is realising that if he doesn’t face up to his unwanted legacy soon, it could be the end for all of them.
Review: Sci-Fi Online, by Charles Packer
Soul Purpose, was an impressive first novel, so would Nick Marsh suffer from the second album curse? Thankfully not.
Alan is the quintessential Englishman, dour in outlook, with a good slice of dry wit with which he views the inevitable nastiness, which is his life, the ultimate reluctant hero. In the new novel Alan and Kate find themselves travelling back in time to Roman Britain, possibly to save the life of Commodus, against a menace from the possible realms which spring into existence, before disintegrating through the probable and ending in the nonexistent. A creature like this requires that others believe in his existence so that his solidity in reality increases, the only problem it that the best way to do this is to create fear and murder.
The book is in the same vein as Soul Purpose with a humour that is somewhere between Douglas Adams and Tom Sharpe, there are a few laugh out loud moments but mostly the humour is of the sly chuckle type. That’s not to say that the book lacks depth.
I generally find that if I care a monkey’s snot about the supporting characters then the author has done a good job. Obviously, it’s pretty easy to get you to follow the main characters and with the bulk of the action the writer can even be a bit lazy about developing them. So, if I felt, as a reader, that the fate of the secondary character, Lucius, was a moving moment, then it stands to reason that such an attention to detail flows through the whole book.
Each of the main characters are well drawn, with their own motivation and believable reactions in an unbelievable situation. The book contains a mixture of deep and really stupid thoughts and a heavy slice of entertainment.
I was suitably impressed, actually blown away would be more accurate, with the first novel and the skill which Marsh displayed is, if anything, sharper in Past Tense as the story effortlessly flows, thematically between horror, fear, humour and laughter. Hopefully someone will pick this up; it would make a stunning television series, somewhere between Doctor Who and Being Human.