Ian McDonald has the word-sense of a poet and uses it to produce some of the most interesting and delightful science fiction of the last three decades. This novella is a variation on the time travel theme by way of letters left in copies of an obscure book of poetry. It is a love story, speculative science, and a composite of periods bleeding into each other with the feel of a pastoral, set against WWII and the confusion of early 21st Century Britain. By turns charming, fascinating, grim, heart-breaking, and affirming.
— From Mark
Ian McDonald weaves a love story across an endless expanse with his science fiction novella Time Was
A love story stitched across time and war, shaped by the power of books, and ultimately destroyed by it.
In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.
Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.
"With echoes of H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine and replete with the inimitable scent of used bookstores, Time Was weaves an exquisite spell of love, war and quantum physics that is timeless in its appeal. A scientific romance in the most evocative sense of the word." —Nina Allan
"McDonald’s gift for storytelling is on full display as he captures the emotional nuances of a decades-long love while exploring issues of military and scientific might and the state of the contemporary book industry." —Booklist