Sunday Book Review: "Sailing Time's Oceans"

"Sailing Time's Oceans" by Terrence M. Green is a story about people displaced by catastrophe, helpless to do anything about it and struggling to adapt. It takes place in vastly different eras and places, moving easily between the Norfolk Prison Colony of 1835, a Greenpeace ship in 1972 and Central America in 2072. But this isn't your typical time travel story about paradoxes, killing your own granddad or stalking Adolph Hitler. Instead, it focuses upon the characters and their alienation.

It reminded me of "Gulliver's Travels" and "Stranger in a Strange Land". Setting it apart from these two novels is the depth and sensitivity of Green's characterization. While Swift and Heinlein were primarily interested in examining society, Green always puts his realistic and believable people first. "Sailing Time's Oceans" is a philosophical book but it is the reasoning of the human heart that most concerns Green.

Aside from the depth and content of the story, Green's writing, on a purely sentence to sentence level, is a beautiful thing, ranking amongst the best in Canadian literature. It is no accident that it was this novel that McClelland and Stewart chose as their first foray into unashamed science fiction after their success with books like "The Handmaid's Tale". Sadly, the marketing was grossly mishandled and the book almost vanished.

It has been brought back to life by Robert J. Sawyer Books and this time it deserves the attention of genre and mainstream readers alike. It is a wonderful, wise and emotional novel by one of Toronto's finest writers.

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