Time hunter: peculiar lives Review and Opinion

Time hunter: peculiar lives Review and Opinion

Time Hunter: Peculiar Lives
Phillip Purser-Hallard
Telos paperback £7.99

review by Alasdair Stuart

The Time Hunter series has an unusual pedigree, spinning off from the Doctor Who novella range Telos have published but are, due to legal reasons, no longer being allowed to refer to them. It follows the adventures of Honore Lechausseur and Emily Blandish, a time sensitive and time jumper respectively. Honore is a former G.I. turned private detective whilst Emily is an amnesiac woman with no memory of her past life.

Phillip Purser-Hallard puts another layer of fiction over this by having the book be 'written' by Erik Clevedon. A 'scientific romance' writer, Clevedon is a homage to Olaf Stapledon in particular, an author that Purser-Hallard has conducted an extensive study of. Here, Clevedon's work found to have been influenced by humans in the far future, and when Honore and Emily get involved, they discover the existence not only of these creatures but also of the Peculiar. The next evolutionary step, the Peculiar are planning a gradual take over of the planet and as the book opens, Clevedon realises that that takeover may be sooner rather than later.

It's an incredibly brave move by Purser-Hallard especially as the entire book is written in the vernacular of the time. The prose is grandiose, the ideas even more so (including a guest appearance by a George Bernard Shaw analogue) and the entire novella is clearly an attempt to evoke the scientific romances of old. In that respect, it works supremely well. However, as an entry in the Time Hunter series it barely registers. This isn't just a book by Clevedon it's a book about Clevedon with Honore and Emily reduced to supporting roles. This problem isn't helped by splitting the pair up or by the long sections of the book taken up with describing the Peculiar, a group of characters who are for the most part deeply unsympathetic. The crucial fault though is that Honore and Emily appear to be guests in their own series.

Peculiar Lives is a challenging but ultimately rewarding read for anyone who stays the course. The central idea is extremely well handled and the descriptions of Honore's travels in time in particular are fascinating to read. However, Purser-Hallard is a little too fond of his material, leading to it pushing the main characters into the background. Interesting and worth your time but if you're new to this series, try another book first.

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