Unexpected Beauty | Review of ‘The Map of Time’


By: Cynthia Ayala  

A novel that focuses more on the aspect of telling a story than the actual science fiction of the time traveling.  Beautifully written and constructed, The Map of Time offers readers a chance to see the author and is motivation for the novel.

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Author:  Félix J. Palma

Translator:  Nick Caistor

Published: October 15, 2008

Publisher: Atria Books

Series: Trilogía Victoriana #1

Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction

A compilation of three stories that connect and center around H.G. Wells following the publication of one of his more famous novel’s ‘The Time Machine’. But what makes his career, is slowly what’s killing him. With each story, H. G. Wells has realized that his door had opened up doorways for everyone, creating the illusion of time travel that turns out not to be an illusion. Within each story, Wells is pushed to the edge of story after story, where the last could lead to his future or his death.

The Map of Time is a Spanish novel written by Félix J. Palma and translated into English by Nick Caistor. Published on October 15, 2008 by Atria Books, this is the first novel in the Trilogía Victoriana and pulls historical fiction together with fantasy and science fiction. A wonderful novel, but the downside has nothing to do with the novel, but rather with the synopsis on the back of the novel and the synopsis online because it builds this novel that doesn’t exist. This novel is something entirely different and readers should know that.

The concept of the novel is somewhat close to Cloud Atlas as far as different stories goes and the narrator, the author specifically, brings voice into the novel and breaks the fourth wall. That is a tricky thing to pull off without coming off as reliant trick for the author. It works with the novel because it is so limited and spread out, glimmering only here and there to shift between what is an important essential detail in the novel and what just adds to the direction of the novel, where it’s going and allows readers to see outside of the protagonist. This controls the story and allows the readers won’t get distracted and thing this other character is going to have this enormous story within the novel.

Each story has central focus to draw the reader in and then is builds to Wells, it centers around him as he works to create a live action story with the people around him who have come to him for help to keep someone alive and that puts him in a state of unrest, because as a writer he is finding himself pushed to manipulating those around him and manipulating and weaving a very simple yet complicated story. It was very elegant, very structured and very captivating to read because it has this essence and twists on historical fiction. Readers will be able to see just the kind of devotion and energy that Palma has towards H. G. Wells and any fan of H. G. Well will see the inspiration, the aesthetic that really defines the characters and the writer himself.

The Map of Time is created in such a brilliant way, separating the novel into three separate stories to build to the final story. At first it’s unclear how the they will be interwoven into one another, but then, it slowly and subtly, the reader goes from reading how the story changes to reading how Wells is the focal point. Palma takes one of his greatest works to build on, and not in a science fiction way that leaves readers wondering “well, when is the time traveling going to happen?”. It’s so beautiful in it’s construction that it leaves nothing to be desired.

Honestly, the synopsis online really does a disservice for this novel because readers will be expecting this wonderful science fiction novel when really it’s more like beautiful play about storytelling and character development. ★★★★★ (A+)

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