by Allen Steele
Review by Ann Cecil

This book is an expansion of Steele's award winning novella, 'Where Angels Fear To Tread.' The key idea behind the novella and the book is a 'what if' proposition: what if UFOs exist and are really time-travel vehicles? The novella featured a downed UFO, being chased by a miscellaneous group of FBI, UFO investigators, Air Force people and civilians. One of the UFO investigators has an unsettling and revealing encounter, which changes his world view.

The book has an beginning section, in which we learn more about the time-travelers, their world and the set-up behind their accident, plus a concluding section, which carries us into more of the consequences of time-travel and causing paradoxes. The book is very well-written, as expected from Steele; the characters are likable and three-dimensional people, fallible but logical. I particularly liked Murphy, the Ufo investigator, who in a different time-line yearns to be an SF writer.

My problems with the book are that the final conclusion is depressing; this is one of those 'there are some things man was not meant to know' books. We go through heroics to convince the likable Murphy that he should suppress his imagination and knowledge, or genocidal aliens will destroy Humanity. So he agrees. And the characters all heave a sigh of relief, because none of these people knows that the same idea often occurs to more than one person.

This wouldn't be so disappointing to me if I hadn't liked the characters, and found a good deal of the action interesting and exciting. This is an eminently readable book; I just was irritated at the ending.

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