Saturday 16 July 2011

Changing Yesterday

Changing Yesterday by Sean McMullen (Ford Street Publishing)
PB RRP $19.95
ISBN 978 1 921665 37 0
Reviewed by Jenny Mounfield

In Ford Street’s ’07 debut, Before the Storm, we were introduced to BC (Liore) and Fox, two young soldiers from an alternate 21st century who travelled back in time to prevent the bombing of the first Australian parliament and the century of war that would follow. They succeeded, with a little help from Emily, Daniel and con-artist and thief extraordinaire, Barry the Bag. But no sooner had they achieved their objective than an alternate beginning to the Century War came into being. In Changing Yesterday the fight to save the future continues.

The story opens in spectacular style: Our guardians of tomorrow must foil a plot to blow up the heir to the British throne during his Australian tour. Once this task is accomplished, yet another future presents itself. Meanwhile, Barry the Bag is entertaining visions of grandeur: If he can pinch Liore’s plasma lance rifle, the King will surely reward him handsomely. The ever-resourceful Barry does just that and soon finds himself aboard a ship to England. Daniel, too, is aboard the same ship, destined for a posh boarding school. And hot on their tails is battle-ready Liore. Believing she has been betrayed by everyone she trusted (including Fox who is AWOL), Liore is fixing a man-sized helping of revenge.

This is a story rich with action, emotion and humour. McMullen’s characters are superb, particularly Barry the Bag. Despite his thieving ways, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. So, too, Liore is a stroke of genius, with her snipped battle-speak and macho idiosyncrasies. These characters are so incredibly flawed, they are perfect. While the character core of Before the Storm remains intact (with the exceptions of Fox and Muriel who are out of the picture loving it up in France), McMullen has introduced new character Madeline, who fills the role previously held by Daniel’s snooty sister, Emily. A Miss Marple in the making, Madeline adds a fresh perspective to the character dynamic.

Crossing many genres—historical, SF, fantasy, adventure—Changing Yesterday will appeal to more than just die-hard SF fans. The technical aspects aren’t overdone and are easily understood—as are the early 20th century setting and customs. The contrasts drawn throughout this story provide unlimited fodder for classroom discussion.

A leader in Australian Fantasy and SF, McMullen is a multiple award-winning author with fifteen novels and sixty short stories to his name. Find out more at:

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