The Bones of Time

Posted by : atcampbell | On : November 18, 1997

The Bones of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Attendees: A. T. Campbell III, Karen Meschke, Jeff Rupley, Lori Wolf

We had a small but loyal turnout at the FACT Office to discuss Kathleen Ann Goonan’s second novel, The Bones of Time. The book interweaves two story lines. In the first story, a mathematician in the early 21st Century has a time-traveling romance with a Hawaiian princess from hundreds of years ago. The other story, set a couple of decades later in the future, is a complicated adventure involving a clone of King Kamehameha, travel between dimensions, espionage, the space program, and the Dalai Lama.

We all found the romantic story line interesting and compelling. The passions of the characters seemed real, and the mathematician’s life was depicted well. The clone story was less satisfying. Its elements were contrived, the writing seemed padded, and we all tended to skim through its sequences to get back to the romantic plot thread.

We felt that the marketing of this book as science fiction was deceptive. Despite the future timeframe of the plot, the world in the story was identical to our own. The time-traveling and dimension-traveling mechanisms of the story were based more in fantasy than in science, and we felt the book would have been more successful had it been written as a fantasy.

Despite this book’s flaws, it had enough interesting elements that we felt Goonan had promise as a writer. Karen had read Goonan’s first novel, Queen City Jazz, and found it to be a better book. We might give that book a try one of these days.

— A. T. Campbell, III