Friday, April 14, 2006

A Do-Over, Mr Darcy?

For many years, both my mother and my sister have been fans of ‘Historical Romances’. I think they’ve read every one of Georgette Heyer’s novels. If you are not sure what I mean, think of variations on the themes, situations and characters of Pride and Prejudice and you’re probably in the right area; the Regency era, men and women of different station, or different outlook, drawn together and overcoming great adversity as ultimately love triumphs over all.

I must admit that while I am happy they enjoy the books, I’ve always looked down on the genre somewhat as ‘not quite real’ writing; fairly standard plots which don’t exercise the brain too much and which always have a happy ending. Nothing like the grittier science fiction which I’ve always preferred, exploring paradoxes and obscure physics and where a happy-ending is by no-means guaranteed or, when one does happen, may not be as happy as you might expect.

Well, my dear mother and sister, should you be reading this, you may be interested to know that I have recently fallen from my high horse.

Not through the undoubted joys of the crinolined ladies and red-coated soldiers of the historical romance genre, but I have found my own equivalent online. Do Over’ is an online novel about a gay guy, pretty much down on his luck, who tries to raise some money by volunteering for a pseudo-scientific experiment which results in his adult mind being sent back through time into his teenage body. (I know, I know! Already I can hear you cringing at the premise.) It’s fairly well written though and seems very well researched historically. The story deals with how the narrator/protagonist tries to improve the lot of both his family and the world in general, in the process finding friendship and love in the most unexpected places and ultimately goes on to do both great and terrible things. Anyone who’s ever thought much about the practical issues of time-travel will know of the quandaries that would be encountered and the possibilities that could be realised in such a situation. While there is beauty and love in abundance, it is also a cautionary tale!

While it’s a little bit wordy in places (but then who am I to complain about wordy writing!?) I found it absolutely captivating and must admit to several very late nights over the last few weeks, because I just had to find out what happened next.

What’s more, after the first story arc, there’s a follow up, ‘Do Over Redux’ which is just as fascinating. If you have time, read them – but keep in mind that each one is pretty much a full-length novel.

If you could go back and re-live your life from your high school years onwards, would you change anything about your life? Would you want to change history? If you did, how can you be sure that, on balance, it would work out for the best?

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