By Robert Charles Wilson
If the past is a foreign country, it’s also a heck of a tourist destination. That’s what has happened in Robert Charles Wilson’s latest, as a time-travel machine known as the Mirror allows citizens of the twenty-first century to visit yesteryear – specifically an access point in the 1870s built on the plains of Illinois where the deer and the antelope still play and where a freshly-built City of Futurity serves as an inter-temporal transportation hub.
Wilson is less interested in how the Mirror operates (which remains a mystery) than he is in the ways now and then interact. This is dramatized in the relationship between two security officers: one a nineteenth-century native with a checkered past and the other a hard-nosed twenty-first century single mom.
Running beneath the action-filled plot there are some provocative questions raised about progress and continuity. While the present is the product of our history, with the advent of time travel the future is able to infect the past in moral as well as material ways.