Travel documents 44: The Out Of Time Series

The Out Of Time Series

C.B. Lewis
Genre: near-future spec-fic,time travel,LGBT Romance

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The Dust Cover Copy

Book 1: Time Waits

Badly wounded and on the run from his WWII Hungarian brigade, Janos Nagy stumbles through a temporal gateway to the future. Suddenly stranded in Manchester, England, 2041, Janos wants answers about a crazy world he doesn’t recognize.

Dieter Schmidt, flamboyant historian/linguist for the Temporal Research Institution has those answers, but the TRI is a neutral entity, set up to verify historical events under a strict code of noninterference. That doesn’t stop Dieter from taking Janos under his protection. Trust doesn’t come easy to Janos, who came from a time when revealing his secrets could get him killed, but the two men slowly build a tentative friendship with a possibility for more. But Janos’s continued presence in the future and Dieter’s persistence raise questions about the limits of the noninterference policy.

Since the rules have been bent once, one agent sees no reason why he can’t push them further, and he travels back to 1914 to make a few changes of his own. Under Janos’s guidance, Dieter must leap back in time to stop the rogue agent from changing the past and risking everyone’s future—if he can survive history.
Book 2: Time Lost

What began with a dead intruder and a missing scientist quickly becomes the most perplexing case of Detective Inspector Jacob Ofori’s career. Nothing about it makes sense, from the incredibly advanced technology found on the intruder to the scientist’s mysterious workplace, the Temporal Research Institute. Jacob’s gut tells him the TRI is hiding something, and the questions keep piling up: Who would abduct Sanders? What is the strange gate in his basement laboratory? How does it connect to similar gates in the TRI?

TRI engineer Kit Rafferty only wanted one night with the sexy older policeman, but Kit’s mouth tends to run away with him when he gets excited, and nothing gets him more excited than cutting-edge tech—like the intruder’s cybernetic eye. Suddenly Kit is pulled into the investigation—and into a relationship that could jeopardize both of their lives. Kit hates lying to Jacob, but he cannot reveal what really goes on at the TRI—time travel. Faced with time-jumping criminals but unable to share that knowledge with Jacob, Kit turns to a man who knows time travel firsthand: Janos Nagy.

Book 3: Time Taken

Time travel is a precarious business at the best of times, but when Qasim El-Fahkri’s mission to the past ends in violence, it has a ripple effect through every level of the Temporal Research Institute.

Rhys Griffiths finds himself caught in the wake of the disastrous jump, his own career uncertain. With the Supervisory Board breathing down his neck, operatives demanding answers to baffling questions, and life outside of work bearing down on him, his only respite comes from Qasim’s company. As the professional slowly becomes the personal, they must confront the echoes of their own pasts to try and move forward in the future.

But another past is waiting for Qasim, and there may be no coming back from this one…

The Deets

The Scene

Worldbuilding

So, I started this series with Book 3, accidentally. And then I went back and read Book 1 and Book 2. And it still worked perfectly. If you’ve watched El Ministerio del Tiempoit’s a similar setup: a nice, steady office job…that just happens to involve time travel.

The world is our recent future, with just enough small changes to remind readers that we’re in the days to come. We watch through the series as the feral science of time travel grows its own laws and bureaucracy, which is fascinating in its own right. The UN gets involved, of course. As does a lot of math. A lot of deals behind closed doors. A lot of paperwork. And a whole lot of dangerous moments throughout the timeline. But the grounding in the sort of office job and office politics we can all understand allows us to feel as if this is an actual organization with an address somewhere in town.

The Crowd

Characterization

Characterization is where the series really shines. These characters are a wonderfully strong cohesive group, coming together without losing their endearing quirks and individuality.
One of the greatest strengths is that, in this series, the whole timeline is involved, which means the author has gone out of her way to include non-western characters and their backgrounds. I adore the work and research Lewis has put into including diverse characters and, in the third book, in writing the character of Qasim and his navigating being a queer practicing Muslim.  The fact that he’s extremely valuable when missions to the Silk Road or any of the great Muslim cultures of history are being run is wonderful to see showcased. It is so great to see more focus being put on non-Western stories! And Lewis has put so much heart into all her characters.  Miriam, the de facto mother of the Agents. Dieter, a multilingual scholar who’s also going to wear bleached hair and eyeliner at work. And poor Ben, the brilliant young scientist  who is, for all his clever mind, still a boy.

There’s a romance subplot in each book, and each works in its own way. Each set of characters has their own, unique relationship dynamic, from Dieter and Janos’ quiet intensity of devotion to Jacob and Kit’s sweet, awkward love. Each relationship has its own charms. The romances leaven the stories beautifully, adding a spice of banter and a touch of sweetness to the tomes.

The Lingo

Writing Style

Interpersonal relations and clever banter move the stories along at a good clip, really investing us in what happens to these characters when things start to go haywire and missions turn dangerous. The writing was just a touch young in Book 1, but it has strengthened so very much from the first page. It’s also wonderfully, compassionately exploring the complexities of mental health and non-traditional romance. It’s really impressive that each book can stand on its own, but all of them together make a wonderful mosaic of personalities, adventures, and connections.

I’ve particularly appreciated the use of internal monolog in this work; it’s used in all the right places to add humor, weight and impact to events. The writing style changes for each point of view, encouraging us as readers to see through each character’s eyes in the best possible way.

There’s enough steam in each book to get the blood pumping. There’s great sidelong humor, much of it classically British. There’s wonderfully astute research, and underpinning it all is the exasperated shenanigans of the life in an office for time-travel workers.

The Moves

Plot

Following a strong episodic format, each book follows through on the positing, the working and the resolution of a timeline disaster. Each one is a fun and intricate ride through the lives of time agents and their attempts to defend the existing timeline, garner knowledge for the present and unveil long-lost secrets. These books are like potato chips!

Overall Rating

An energetic, clever and lovable ride through time, with a good crew along the way. I’m definitely picking up book four.