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The Cube Root of Time

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by Herbert Cohen

This is a time travel novel. They seem to be having a bit of a vogue at the moment, what with "The Time Traveller's Wife" selling well, and possibly getting filmed. In my opinion, this book can hold its head up proudly in such company.

It does not have such an original premise as the above-mentioned novel, but still has some nice ideas of its own. The nicest of which is that the time travelling itself is so personal to the main character, Ira Loewenstein. The largest, and most important section of this novel deals with Ira travelling from todays world to 1940s New York to try and work out why his father disappeared. During the course of his visit he meets such luminaries as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Edgar G. Hoover. He does find out what happened to his father, but I won't give that away, except to say that, as is usual in time travel books, a paradox is involved.

Apart from this section, there are a lot of other things in Mr Cohen's novel. He rather likes chases and seems fascinated with the workings of such bodies as the FBI and the CIA. He also delves into the science of his time travel theory in a great deal of detail. In fact, that is the only fault I can find with this book. Not that he dazzles us with science; this is, after all, essentially a science fiction novel. No, but he that buries us in detail.

Whenever he gets his teeth into something, he has to completely worry it to death. The chase I mentioned above seems as if it's never going to stop, the developing of the time travel is a very long section. Actually quite fascinating, but still making the book feel unbalanced. And why the boat trip and the potential boat buying? This had nothing to do with the story at all. It felt like it had been imported from another work of Mr Cohen's.

Allowing for all of the above, I still thoroughly enjoyed The Cube Root of Time and feel that, with a little more self-control, or maybe a stronger editor (and proof-reader, the use of quotation marks is particularly strange at times), Herbert Cohen could become a science fiction and/or crime writer of some stature. He certainly demonstrates, in this work, that he is not short of ideas. Oh, and I loved the ending.

 

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ISBN 1 74100 136 6

Jacobyte Books, 2004

 

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Review by Chris Williams