FeatherPenClipArtThis novella appeared in City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, published by Castalia House.

Jake Frontino is a 1940’s style noir detective in a city called Metachronopolis. The city is ruled by Time Wardens who can manipulate time, transporting famous people and things into the city apparently for their prestige value. Jake is hired by Jack Kennedy, future Time Warden, to save history’s most beautiful woman, either Marilyn Monroe or Helen of Troy, from himself. The story is told from the end to the beginning. Jake and Jack find Marilyn/Helen and get her to help set a trap for his older self. This works, and after a struggle, the older Jack is killed, leading to a time paradox. Then Jack hires Jake. Then Jack comes to Jake’s office and explains what he wants to do.

I’m not sure what to say about this one. My first reaction is that Jake is pretty sexist. I kept reading along, looking for some reason to write the character this way, but his attitude seems to have no socially redeeming value. Maybe it’s 1950s Marilyn that has triggered the whole thing. Other than that, the story structure is pretty messy and the physics unsupported in any way. Wright resorts to things like a “forgetting helmet” and similar gimmicks to carry the plot. Apparently this is from a collection of related stories, and maybe it would make more sense in context. On the positive side, the idea is very creative and the writing style is very smooth and readable. One star.