This was a excellent story in my favorite science fiction topic: time travel.
The chapters bounced back and forth between the girl in the present and the guy who got stuck in the stone age. Finally you learn about the dueling groups of time-travel scientist in different eras with a surprising twist in their techniques for doing battle. One of the things I love about time-travel novels is the wide variety of unexpected ways to cover the same topic and plot.
The two main characters were 16 year-olds, which added a twist in perspective.
Another twist (depending on your where you are from) is that it takes place in England (Stonehenge) by a British author.
I guess I'm a sucker for picturesque speech, so here are my picks:
"There was nobody in, just her dog having kittens in the kitchen." p30
"My only concern was that somebody with an equally high opinion of their driving skills might be whizzing the other way." p51
"He had a smile you could grease a cake tin with." p54
"He made Machiavelli look like Homer Simpson." p63
"Having Blaith for protection will be like being a goldfish in the care of a mad moggy with a harpoon gun." 102
The topic and setting are interesting, but there are far too many inconsistencies for me to like this book.
If a ship left earth for a multi-year voyage to Mars, I am sure that everyone would know everyone on board by name, by sight and by having talked to everyone else before leaving earth. But the security officer didn't know someone well into the flight.
Why would a ship going to Mars carry hand grenades and a shotgun?
There was far too little concern for hull integrity.
This novel is too short. It needs at least twice the words to fill in the details and develop the characters. But I liked it.
Five guys are asked to go to mars to find out what happened to the previous two teams that found some evidence of previous civilization. So they traipsed around the alien workshops and living spaces and speculated at how it all worked, why it was there, and what the history was and whether the bones were humanoid or vicious beast. Good stuff.
Some of the detail that I would like to have read more about was the technique of thrusting to accelerate half way to Mars then flipping abound and thrusting the other way to slow down. I've read about that in other novels too. It's plausible. It gives you "gravity" all the way there. But on the way home, did they start out at low thrust and build all the way home to regain their strength? Didn't say.
Also, I would have expected earth to be very excited to hear their story about how they made it out alive the first day. But there's very little about communication with earth.
And they were able to extract oxygen and water from Mars. How? What chemistry? And what was the plan if it didn't work?
In spite of the brevity, I'm pleased to have read this.
I read this book over a year ago, but the author's insight is so shocking that I'm still thinking about it. For example, he briefly described different problems people have when they walk in an enclosed space depending on the strength of gravity of the planet they grew up on. That's a small detail, but fascinating, and I'll bet he got it right.
He also examined in detail the effects of increasing populations as they expand into other worlds and satellite constructs, and how, for example, if a world remains isolated too long, other worlds will hesitate to take their immigrants for fear of what diseases may have developed. And what happens when satellite worlds get old and degrade. And the effects of population on education--that every book every written before some date (approximately now) will have had at least one doctoral thesis written about it.
I read two of Clive Cussler's novels and I don't intend to ever read another, because he's frustratingly sloppy with technical details. But William Haloupek is extremely careful and thoughtful with details. I sure wish he'd write some more novels like this one.