Ossus Library Index Science Fiction Index

NO TIME TO BE GUESSING

A novel by Barry B. Connors (2017, Barry B. Connors)

Traveling the countryside, Cory finds a group of survivors who are taking advantage of the women they have with them, and takes matters into his own hands.

 

 

Read February 6th to 8th, in ebook  
    A focused story that has a single purpose, and goes about fulfilling that purpose, with a bit of new information along the way. The suspense comes from trying to find out how they go about doing it, because the ultimate outcome is almost never in question. The two main characters make it work, because they go well together and their characters are always consistent.

Spoiler review:

This book continues more than a year after the events of No Time to Give Up, in which the survivors of the world holocaust find a city fully prepared for them with houses stocked with food and everything they could need to start a new society. The spheres are gone, though Cory isn’t convinced of that, and they have given knowledge to the kids to pass on to the adults.

There are only a couple of short chapters at the beginning of the book that deal with the community in Windsor. Knowing the author, I can see how he set up the kids teaching adults in the last book, as a reference to the way a karate student must let go of ego to be taught by one who has more knowledge, no matter the age difference. In that way, we will put a forty-year-old white belt under the tutelage of a sixteen-year-old green belt. The true karateka will accept this. In this book, one person cannot, and he leaves the community. I wonder if we’ll see him again.

The bulk of the story deals with Cory and Shannon’s exploration of the lands as she goes to Sudbury to see the place where her parents’ home was. The entire story was shorter than my preference, but it didn’t need any more substance for what it set out to do, so I guess it was just the right length. It would have been nice to see some continued progression within the Windsor community, so that we can see the evolution when they return, but that was not the author’s intent.

The book starts with an accident, where Cory is caught in an underground trap set by some anonymous person, probably before the spheres started doing their culling of humanity. Shannon catches the brunt of an explosion that frees him, and Cory spends the next several days caring for her. The major discovery here is that the spheres couldn’t disintegrate anything that was underground, so there must be plenty of stuff still around in various cities around the world. Here, he is able to gather medical supplies and nutritional supplements to heal Shannon, though it still seems way too quick to me.

So early in the book, I was seriously wondering if the author would kill off Shannon, the love of Cory’s life. Not only would that devastate Cory, and change him irrevocably, but I think it would devastate the readers, too! I found myself hoping that she would live, as it was far from certain for a while.

When Shannon is healed, they make their way up to Sudbury with the dog that befriended Shannon. It’s convenient for the rest of the book to have such a well-trained dog, but it doesn’t come across as too much of a plot convenience, as the dog plays more of a search-type role, rather than a protector. It’s able to remain quiet when needed.

I also enjoyed the implied intimacy between Cory and Shannon, which continues from the previous books. The reader is able to read as much as he/she wants into the situations, and it will probably fly right over younger readers’ heads.

The main plot kicks into gear when they discover more survivors, in the form of women gardening at night, with the men holding the whips to them. Some of the women are pregnant, and all are mistreated, which of course boils Cory’s blood. Cory is something of an idealist. After putting together the kind of just world he’s been brought up in, there is no way he’ll let an injustice like what he sees in this book pass by. It also makes for a great feeling when he succeeds. Rob and Shannon know this about him, and even though he puts himself in danger because of it, they accept it as an essential part of him.

Cory and Shannon (and the dog) watch the women and men through a home-made blind, in which they see that an apparent orange sphere is actually a hot-air balloon, though I don’t see any evidence of it before Shannon makes that statement. Then Cory sneaks into the mine, and finds the eight women, five men, and tons of supplies, including military-grade weapons, and a well-stocked freezer.

Ken is in charge, and it’s he who gets the women pregnant and beats them into submission. He’s an easy character to hate, which I think is the point. Cory is trapped inside the mine, but his presence is not detected. Shannon stays outside, and tries to sabotage the air intakes and emergency exits. She is discovered, but is saved by a gunshot from elsewhere. I thought it likely the gunshot came from Kai, whom we hear in the opening chapters is preparing to go out in search of Cory and Shannon. But it turns out it’s Rob, though he’s accompanied by Kai and Arthur. It was a good bit of misdirection, much like Shannon’s injuries at the beginning.

Cory and Shannon coordinate from inside and out, along with Carson, a man who got caught up in the band, but tried to treat the women well. One of the women gives birth, which gives Carson and Cory a chance to meet. They get Ken’s group so riled up that Rob is easily able to overpower them, no matter that they have rocket launchers at the entrance to the mine. The final conflict is well-planned, with enough deception and changes of loyalty to keep it realistic. It’s over very fast, which is probably more realistic than the long and drawn-out fights in the movies. Part of what makes it work is the discord between the bad guys, in that evil will always turn on itself. Ken is paranoid about revolt from the other men, and Carson uses this to their advantage.

Rob manages to calm the women, who have been so brutalized that they think they are not worthy of joining the community in Windsor. Cory and Shannon prepare a meal of steaks from the freezer in order to welcome them to the new world, and they plan on how to bring the stockpile of stuff from the mine storehouse back to Windsor.

There are some random things that bothered me, but mostly it’s in the style of writing, which is still maturing, and not as polished as it could be. For example, some of the characters are given names before they are properly introduced. Like when we are first introduced to Kevin as a speaker, nobody has yet said who Kevin was. Many pages use the pronoun “he” or “him” a lot, even when there are multiple characters, or even the dog. This leads to confusion in the character that the author is talking about.

There is a moment when Cory says that “after what happened in Toronto and Windsor” the spheres can’t be trusted. I don’t recall anything happening in Windsor, except the group of survivors arriving. I don’t recall anything major happening after they arrived, so I’m not sure what it’s referring to.

As before in these books, I find it somewhat jarring when the point of view changes for a paragraph at a time. This happens several times when the POV switches between Ken/Kevin within a Cory/Shannon chapter, and it happens briefly enough that I wondered if it was necessary or if there was another way to do it.

This is probably not a concern, but for new readers who don’t want to start at book 1, it might be a little confusing to be dropped into the story where it’s never explained how the world ended. As the continuation of the story after a trilogy of books, it might be worth adding a little more backstory in appropriate places. It didn’t bother me, but I’m aware of what went on earlier.

I enjoyed the story for what it represented, and I look forward to future installments.
 
   

Back to Top

All reviews and page designs at this site Copyright (c)  by Warren Dunn, all rights reserved.