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Time Ghost: 06/19/18

Time Ghost

Time Ghost by Welwyn Wilton Katz is set in the near future and the recent past, although at the time it was written, the "past" would have been the present. Sara and her brother Karl are reluctantly going with their grandmother on a research and protest trip to the North Pole.

The ice has mostly melted. The seas have risen. The atmosphere is heavily polluted and most cities are now living under domes. Sara and her family live in the Ottawa dome.

The trip happens to coincide with Sara's birthday. She's given a gift of a pendant that has a miniature loon inside. In this near future the loons have disappeared and Canadian money reflects its disappearance by removing the loon from the one dollar coins.

Sara having spent her hole life effectively in doors is a bit agoraphobic. She's also possibly air sick from the flying vehicle her grandmother pilots. Regardless, she's not in any sort of mood to accept a sentimental gift from her grandmother.

In the background of all of this is a time experiment that two of the grandmother's passengers are doing. The idea goes like this: at the north pole (the actual axis of rotation, not magnetic north which is over PEI) the time zones all converge into a no-time point. What happens at that point? Could it possibly be a portal for time travel?

Well, given the title, the answer for this book is yes. But time travel isn't done by clocks or other time devices. It's a personal experience and it happens on what Edward Einhorn calls "personal time" in Paradox in Oz. The object of connection for Sara and her grandmother and their separate timelines is the pendant.

The second and third parts of the book are set in the past where Sara and the others who were present at her polar temper tantrum are now stuck in the bodies of people from the grandmother's past. All except for Sara, who is floating at the side of a girl as a "time ghost."

Through this leap into the past Sara learns about her grandmother, gets a glimpse of what the wilderness used to be like. She also gets to hear and see the loon that her grandmother is always talking about.

In terms of tone, the book waffles between melodrama and eerie predictions of environmental collapse at the hands of big business. Although we might not end up with domed cities by 2030, we are on a path where bird migrations and biomes are moving north as the world warms.

Three stars

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