Book Title: Time Crawlers
Author: Varun Sayal
Approx Read Time: 60 – 75 min
Review: It was a fine cold morning. As I was getting ready to leave for my day’s tour of London, my phone beeped letting me know an email was awaiting to be read in my inbox. When I checked and found it to be an email from Mr Varun Sayal requesting in a very humble and polite way, an honest review of his debut book – Time Crawlers, published a month earlier – I smiled. I didn’t have time or focus to do book reviews then. I asked for some time – three months – as I had a few more books to read as well. He persistently followed up for a month to try to get to me read it sooner. But since I was travelling through a new country and soaking it all in, I didn’t let myself find some time to go through the books. That was wrong on my part. This weekend I finally came around to reading Time Crawlers and quickly transferred the ebook copy, that Varun sent, to my Kindle. I breezed through it in an hour! That means I could have done this way earlier, way way earlier. For that, I feel apologetic. But I will not delay reviewing it further anymore. So let me dive into my honest unbiased opinion of it right away.
Time Crawlers, is a book that has six short stories. All of them are quite different and evoke different emotions.
Eclipse – They came, mingled with us, took over all important positions in society and now control us. Aliens amongst us and we don’t even know! Only a very select few among us know and can detect their true identities. These Knowers are trying to eliminate them and take back control of human species and the planet. A weakness exposed, an unexpected twist provides the thrills, but it came quickly and couldn’t deliver the full impact as intended. The introduction of twist could have been better. This premise could be fully explored in a much longer storyline. It has potential.
Death By Crowd – Internet of today can be divided into Surface Web, Deep Web, Dark Web and Darknet. Darkest desires of humans are peddled on the networks of darknet. This short story is in form of an interview with one of these peddlers. The brutal and dark acts mentioned in this story though seems unreal but eerily it could be a real possibility or may already be happening! I felt my throat a bit constricted after I was done reading this one. Few of the current trending topics like Cryptocurrency and Artificial Intelligence also find mentions in this story. It leaves us with a question whether we are the ones who create Artificial Intelligence or are we the AI ourselves, a current debate that even Elon Musk is a part of!
Genie – Aah a well placed and well needed humour story after the dark tone of the previous one. This, as name suggests, is a modern take on the ancient lamp rubbing Genie popping Three wish story. Use of sharp language, shows that the story though has a very naive premise, is leagues better in its maturity. It adds a layer of scientific complexity to the workings of a Genie and a legal Terms & Conditions perspective brings out the humor in the story. We all thought, we can circumvent the three wish limit by asking for unlimited wishes as one of our wishes. But no, the Genies have smartened up equally. Had a smile all throughout.
Time Crawlers – The story, whose namesake is the book, doesn’t disappoint. Playing with concept of Time travel is never easy in a story. Varun’s take is refreshingly new and still provides the thrills as he skillfully paints a picture of a world where it exists while still maintaining the physical laws that make it seemingly impossible in our current reality. The story takes in form of a conversation between two people
The Cave – This story didn’t hold my attention too much. It felt long and distracted. May be lack of clear central element that holds the story together. Or if Cave is that, then its not strong enough. I felt various elements in the story were fighting to play centrestage. But anyways, the story itself has telekinesis, quantum physics, astrophysics science and biology sprinkled in. Energy sucker premise, reminded me of Galactus from Marvel universe for sure. The way it ended, somehow made me feel, this story was a past of Earth’s history before life on earth as suggested by Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Nark-Astra – This story of vengeance brought back childhood memories of the Doordarshan’s portrayal of Mahabharat where archers used to throw magic arrows on each other and we had mid air arrow clashes. Introduction of high tech into such a story which clearly feels like would have happened in the times of ancient past is a good premise to work with, but the layer of science fiction did feel a bit forced on the storyline. What’s more, the end felt abrupt as if author didn’t plan ahead on a proper cliffhanger to end it on. Though I must say, inserting Zombies into such a situation was a welcome flight of imagination.
Verdict: This book has as much diversity in imagination to offer as much variety in the style of storytelling. If anything, this book definitely shows that author has potential to write a full fledged suspense thriller fiction story. A writer should aim to write in such a way that reader is so engrossed, they don’t realise they are reading the story; they need to feel like they are living the story. The book has few grammatical and punctuation issues which made me repeatedly aware that it’s just a story written by someone and it interrupted the picture that the writing was painting in my imagination as I was reading it. It could do with another few passes of editing.
If you are looking to taste some Science Fiction as a first timer, you should definitely check this book out. For a more seasoned Science Fiction reader, or more commonly known among enthusiasts as Sci-Fi, this book would feel like promising one shot boosters for your brain to gorge on for few days.Posted on