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So You Had To Build A Time Machine by Jason Offutt #BookReview

Skid doesn’t believe in ghosts or time travel or any of that nonsense. A circus runaway-turned-bouncer, she believes in hard work, self-defense, and good strong coffee. Then one day an annoying theoretical physicist named Dave pops into the seat next to her at her least favorite Kansas City bar and disappears into thin air when she punches him (he totally deserved it).

Now, street names are changing, Skid’s favorite muffins are swapping frosting flavors, Dave keeps reappearing in odd places like the old Sanderson murder house—and that’s only the start of her problems.

Something in the world has gone wrong. Terribly wrong. Absolutely &#*$&ed up.

Someone has the nastiest versions of every conceivable reality at their fingertips, and they’re not afraid to smash them together. With the help of a smooth-talking haunted house owner and a linebacker-sized Dungeons and Dragons-loving baker, Skid and Dave set out to save the world from whatever scientific experiment has sent them all dimension-hopping against their will.

It probably means the world is screwed.

Book cover for So You Had To Build A Time Machine by Jason Offutt

Title: So You Had To Build A Time Machine | Author: Jason Offutt| Publisher: CamCat Publishing| Pub. Date: 21’st July 2020 | Pages: 498 | ISBN13/ASIN: 0744300355 | Genre: Sci-Fi with a touch of Horror | Language: English | Source: Purchased | Starred review

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So You Had To Build A Time Machine Review

This may be shocking to some readers, given the title of this book, but Mr. Offutt has written a pulpy scifi romp with doors opening and closing from everywhere to everywhere.  I’m a big fan of Peter Clines and Blake Crouch, and if you are as well I recommend giving this work consideration.

An odd cast of characters are thrown together in Kansas City, and it’s pretty clear that the town holds a special place in Offutt’s heart. He enjoys talking about different locations and people and local oddities in a manner that brings them to life.  However, there is one inexcusable example of this that I must address.  A plot device involves the color and flavor of the icing on a muffin changing, and different people slowly noticing.  I don’t know if people in KC are particularly insane about their muffins, or if this was supposed to be read as an insane concept to show that we don’t even start in the real world, but I took a poll and everybody agrees: Muffins are never frosted. The end. OK, that’s out of the way.

The characters are all characters. Circus runaway. Gigantic man who plays D&D and sells … muffins. A theoretical physicist who appears to be a drunk but that issue is not satisfactorily developed. And they do not so much have character development arcs as opportunities to reveal who they are over the course of the story. But that’s OK, in pulpy romps real character development takes second place, in my opinion, to the romping.

There are a few places where the fun and games could have been tied down a bit more.  For example, there was an opportunity to play with why certain doors opened to certain places that might get closer to what Crouch did in Dark Matter.  I did not love its explanation in that work, but it was an explanation. Here Offutt introduces crazy weird scenarios that could originate from the backgrounds or thoughts of the characters, but that never seems to develop.  

So cards on the table, I enjoyed this novel. I did not love it but I’m happy to recommend it.  I got exactly what I expected from the plot and almost exactly what I expected from the execution. And I expect I’ll look into the next romp Mr. Offutt offers up.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.


some apparent alcohol abuse

Published inScience Fiction Book ReviewsStarred Reviews

One Comment

  1. This sounds like I might enjoy it too. It reminded me of MT McGuire’s K’Barthan series (I love this), but with time travel. But in the world of the never-ending TBR list, is it worth adding this to it? Well, maybe…

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