The time travel part of this story is not bad. The core conceit that time will not allow a paradox is a great idea and it is used to good effect to explain why direct intervention in events is impossible. Sadly, for me the rest of the book doesn’t live up to that well-thought-through idea.
The Runestone Incident is implausibly based around the estranged husband of the main character hijacking the time machine in order to create a reality show about his grandfather’s finding of a stone that might prove that vikings settled the USA. It’s all just a bit silly and too much of a stretch to be engaging. They have a time travel machine and virtually no security. When it all goes to pieces they let send the campus police and Julia, who is PA to the Dean of the school, out to fix things up? It’s this sort of thing and the ‘tension’ between Julia, her husband and new love-interest that make most of this book a lightweight romance.
As I read this book I was constantly reminded of Isaac Asimov in the sense that he did fabulous short stories which never seemed to translate well into full-length novels. The core time travel idea in Maslakovic’s books is great and worthy of a good short story, scaling it up into a series of novels just isn’t working for me. I quite liked the first book in the series – Pompeii was an engaging setting and the detail of ghost zones and time preventing paradoxes was interesting. This second book seems to focus on developing the characters but I just can’t bring myself to care enough about them to make it all worthwhile.
Overall this is a fun quick read: It’d be good on a plane or sitting by a pool in the Sun. But it lacks the depth to capatalise on a great core idea and become really engaging. I bought the first book in this series, The Far Time Incident, and read a review copy of The Runestone Incident. I’m afraid I can’t see myself reading the third in the series.