Paths Not Taken by Simon R. Green
Ugh. Time travel. It’s never good. Parallel universes at least kind of have an out clause. But time travel almost always involves more rules than a game of Cribbage. Don’t touch anything. Don’t tell people anything. Don’t DO ANYTHING. Otherwise you can completely fuck up the future. Unless the time line is based on you going back in time and making those mistakes. Because if you don’t make those mistakes, then you will alter the future. It’s more complicated than trying to make a souffle during an earthquake,.
In this latest Nightside tale, Taylor is going back in time to find out how the Nightside got created — which he knows the answer to because he was told by his mother that she did it. But he has to go see it for himself. So he takes Tommy Oblivion and Shotgun Suzie. And he’s trying to go back in time to prevent the future that ends with him destroying the universe. Which begs the question why he doesn’t just start punching fucking pterradactyls like Homer Simpson. If altering the timeline would change the timeline, then why not just go on a rampage?
Which they totally do. After explaining that they mustn’t do anything to change the past, they spend an awful lot of time murdering the fuck out of people in the past. Which means those people died because of time travel. And ultimately, it does nothing to advance the main story. Taylor already knew that Shotgun Suzie got burned really bad, and that Merlin lost his heart, and that his mother created the Nightside. So when he gets back from the future, he’s basically five hours from where he was last time, only now he…well, he knows nothing. It’s an ouroborus of total fucking uselessness. And they just break so many goddamn rules it defies logic. Granted, this is a story that spends most of its time wiping its dick on the mattress of logic most of the time. But there’s really no upshot to the story. Except maybe it sets up a love story that really doesn’t need to be set up and feels kind of disappointing.