Back when The Watch came out, Michael Cassutt, whom I’d never met, sent me a very nice email saying he’d nominated the book for a Nebula and that I should thank Don D’Ammassa’s rave review for leading him to the book in the first place. The review was in a publication not available to me in Richmond, so I emailed D’Ammassa (or thought I did; one can never be sure) telling him the story and asking if he’d send me a copy of the review, but never received a reply.
This morning, mousing around about something else, I came upon a link to D’Ammassa’s website, and there was the review. It couldn’t have come at a better time: With the current novel giving me some backtalk, and Sarah set to leave town this morning for three long weeks(!), I needed some cheering up.
So here ’tis:
A visitor from the very far future, a man who might not even be human as we know it, travels back to 1921 and tells Peter Kropotkin that he is about to die, but that he can have a new life with his youth restored, although the catch is that it will be in 1999 in America. So Kropotkin comes to Richmond, Virginia as a refugee, finds works and a few friends, and discovers that other people have traveled through time as well, although not voluntarily. He also must learn to function in a world where capitalism functions very differently than it did in his own time, and where computers, AIDS, and other developments have had profound impacts on society. This could have been the basis for a broad satire or a farce, and there are satirical and amusing moments in the book. But Danvers’ novel is much more serious and contemplative than that. An oddly enough, although there is little direct action or suspense, I found myself turning the pages compulsively until I reached the end. Kropotkin is a likeable, intelligent, compassionate character whose fate, troubles, self questioning, and curiosity awaken sympathetic bonds in the reader. This is one of the most quietly effective and deceptively skillful SF novels I’ve read recently. â€”Don D’Ammassa