Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

If I had never read Connie Willis' Doomsday Book and its sequel To Say Nothing Of The Dog (there are two more sequels, Black Out and All Clear, but Taylor does not appear to have stolen much from those, at least in this first book), I might have thought this book was terrific.   The plot does trip along quite nicely, after all.
But reading this book after reading Willis' books is like reading Harry Potter spin-offs and expecting them to be as good as the real thing; it's just not going to happen.
Taylor steals Willis' whole concept of an English university in the not-too-distant-future having a time travel department, with the actual time travel done with computers instead of some type of magic (Rise and Fall of the DODO) or device (Dr. Who, Bill and Ted's, Back to the Future).   She also steals the whole concept of whether or not we "strand" someone in the past.   And, (SPOILER ALERT FOR TWO DIFFERENT AUTHORS) Taylor steals Willis' major plot idea of "we can take something from the past as long as it's something that is on the verge of being destroyed." In Taylor's case, this is a pine cone and a chunk of the Library of Alexandria.  For Willis, it's a cat and some kittens, which provide the catalyst for the entire plot of To Say Nothing Of The Dog.
Taylor also steals Willis' plot idea of "What if a disease travels forward in time?"
What Taylor DOESN'T have that Willis does is historical research.   Willis has so much detail in her historical settings that the reader almost feels the author must have lived through the events (clearly impossible), but Taylor picks vague settings and gives vague descriptions of all historical scenes.
Taylor's book isn't bad; it's fairly enjoyable as far as plot and character go.  But it lacks historical detail and certainly does not pull off Willis' parallel plot structure.
Thus, if you want a really good series about a university with a time-travel department which has people trying to cash in on commercializing it, find Connie Willis' books instead of these.

List of books in Connie Willis' time travel series:
The Doomsday Book
To Say Nothing of the Dog
Black Out
All Clear
The historical settings are 1348 Oxford, England, Victorian England, and WWII Oxford and London.
Connie Willis' books on goodreads and Amazon.

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