Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Rysa Walker has, like many others recently, injected some much-needed fresh blood into the alternative history and time-travelling genres with The Chronos Files series. In her latest novel, titled Now, Then and Everywhen, Walker marks the beginning of a new series, The Chronos Origins. The story follows two time-travelling historians who are bound to meet on a collision course while trying to fulfill their personal missions, and hopefully prevent history from being erased completely.
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Rysa Walker Begins the Erasing of our History
The question as to what exactly makes us who we are has preoccupied us to for untold generations, and I think we have more than enough different answers to satisfy pretty much anyone’s requirements. Personally, I believe our personal pasts and our collective history as human beings is as important an element in defining us as anything could be.
In her novel Now, Then and Everywhen, marking the beginning of The Chronos Origins series, Rysa Walker explores a scenario we will hopefully never have to imagine contending with in real life: humanity’s history is under threat of being erased.
The story follows two time-travelling historians, with the first one, Madison Grace, starting her jumps through history in 2136 after she yearns to discover her family’s mysterious past. Upon her return to her own present timeline, she finds millions have simply been erased from history, and only the inhabitants of her household have a clue something is wrong.
The other historian, Tyson Reyes, comes from the 2304 and is given an important assignment: travel back to the 20th century and personally witness how America’s civil rights movement played out, so it might be accurately documented. However, in 1965 a massive and unexpected time shift occurs, and in the blink of an eye he sees before him a history he no longer recognizes.
Though they don’t know it yet, Madison and Tyson are embarked on an inevitable collision course with each other, and they will need all the help they can get to stop the past they know from being erased forever. The timeline of humanity’s history has been broken, and though either Tyson or Madison might be responsible for it, they can’t help but feel someone else pulling at the strings from the shadows.
The Breezy Nature of Now, Then and Everywhen
I hold a certain opinion in regards to the science-fiction genre in general, like many people I suspect, and believe it does its best work when the authors are actively trying to explore novel ideas and challenge their readers, who in turn are receptive to doing a bit of thinking on their own.
It’s a genre with limitless potential to explore the past, present and future, no matter how distant… but if I’m being honest, it’s quite nice to have some respite from the heavy ideas with time-travel novels such as this one. Also, before we move on, I just want to give the assurance you definitely don’t need to be acquainted with The Chronos Files before diving into this series.
In any case, I believe the most important thing is clarifying the nature of this novel and what it aims to do above anything else: to entertain without making us strain too harshly. While some people have an aversion to this approach and find it vacuous, I think it ought to be enjoyed for the simple pleasure it brings, especially when it’s well-written and solid in its structure.
This is something I would definitely classify as a lazy Sunday afternoon read, but at the same time it doesn’t mean there is a complete lack of depth to it. A good deal of it does happen focusing around the civil rights movement, and Walker definitely has a thing or two to say about it and its connection to our modern society; she might not necessarily challenge you, but there are definitely a couple of thought-inducing paragraphs here and there.
ll in all, I don’t think I can say this novel breaks through any new frontiers in the genre, and if you’ve been reading these types of books as long as I have, chance are you’ll recognize plenty of individual ideas from other sources. However, the way in which they’re all brought together feels unique and solid enough to make this novel stand on its own two legs.
No Time to Lose
Otherwise, the narration of Now, Then and Everywhen is actually pretty fast-paced, with generally-short chapters divided by newspaper snippets, some factual and others fictional. I must admit I quite enjoyed those little moments of respite between the action, especially since they helped build the atmosphere while also serving as educational materials (there is a helpful section at the end of the book separating truth from fiction).
As a matter of fact, as someone who hasn’t really studied the American Civil Rights movement beyond the lectures I got in high-school, it managed to light a spark of interest in the topic. I’d say it’s quite a notable achievement for any book to entice its readers to learn about anything in the real world.
As far as the narration itself is concerned, I’d say it’s quite fast-paced and has for objective to maintain a high rhythm which forces events to keep on progressing one way or the other. We don’t get much time to stop and reflect on what we’re seeing, – save for the in-between-chapter breaks with news snippets – a gamble which in my opinion paid off thanks to the simpler nature of the story, making it easier to follow.
While it is a bit disorienting to be consistently jumping back and forth between time periods and characters, I found it easy to get accustomed to, at which point it created a quick and eventful flow which never left me bored, even for a moment. They say variety is the spice of life, and we’re constantly being treated to it from start to finish.
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While the novel does end on somewhat of a cliffhanger, I can’t fault it one bit since it’s already published as part of a series, with the author promising at least two more books. Rest assured, many of the important plot threads do get wrapped up nicely and we’re certainly not left unfulfilled at the end.
The Final Verdict
Now, Then and Everywhen by Rysa Walker is a fantastic start to The Chronos Origins series, and in my opinion achieves the goal of being a source of entertainment first, and knowledge second. The prose is solid through and through, the chapters are short and eventful, the characters interesting to follow, and the historical context throws an interesting ingredient into the mix.
If you enjoy time travel and alternate history novels, and are a looking for something of a lighter nature but still with a respectable amount of depth, then I wholeheartedly recommend you give this novel a try.
Rysa Walker is an American author of science-fiction books, whose first novel, Timebound (the debut of The Chronos Files series), won the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.
Since then, she has published a wide variety of novels and short stories, including The Delphi Effect from The Delphi Trilogy as well as Now, Then and Everywhen as part of The Chronos Origins series.