From the Files of the Time Rangers
Golden Gryphon Press,
limited edition (2000 copies) (ISBN: 1930846355).
If you have enjoyed Kage Baker's tales of "The Company" (e.g., The Life of the World to Come . . .), you should also enjoy Richard Bowes' From the Files of the Time Rangers. It's a mosaic or "fix-up" novel, meaning that a number of its pieces first appeared as shorter works in the magazines. More pieces are original to the book. And if the whole sometimes feels a bit unintegrated, that is in the nature of the mosaic form. Overall, Files works nicely.
The Time Rangers trope isn't new. SF has had an enormous number of tales involving time travelers who manipulate the time stream in order to ensure or avoid particular futures or to cultivate particular timelines. But Bowes has a different angle. Many of his characters represent the ancient gods of Greece — Zeus, Athena, Apollo, Dionysus, Mercury, and so on — not all of whom share the same tactics. The ultimate aim is to prevent or delay a future in which humanity is replaced by machines and, because the lives of the gods depend on those of their creators, humanity, the gods are dead.
Some Rangers simply do the gods' bidding. Some are actual avatars. All travel up and down and across the stream of time by twisting a spiral ring, singing a snatch of song, and grabbing a bit of momentum from whatever is moving in their vicinity. Files opens as cadets Nancy Brown, Jake Stockley, and Ed Brown travel so to the Transept of Death, where Lady Olivia Wexford, legendary as a Bacchante who dances with Lord Riot (Dionysus) to destroy cities and worlds, is being brought back from death. Time Rangers serve the Lord of Reason, Apollo, but their mission on this day is to escort the Lady.
Later, they will take on the task of protecting and cultivating a political family and its final scion, Timothy Macauley, who will become U.S. President twice and, perhaps, represent the last, best hope of the human future. All does not go smoothly or logically, for the gods work often at cross-purposes and always at whim, but there is an inevitability to the tale that suggests that the Fates, whom we never see as gods, must nevertheless be at work behind the scenes.
— Tom Easton, The Reference Library, Analog, November 2005