Probably the most boring and/or idiotic time travel book ever written.
Dave and Shel are time travelling buddies... until Shel mysteriously dies/disappears. So then we're taken back in the story to how these two dudes end up time travelling. Shel has a physicist dad (Michael) goes missing. Shel investigates, and while investigating is lucky enough to have his father leave him time travelling devices that looks like
... I mean "qPods"... Dad apparently disappeared doing the time travel thing and now we need to go find him. The first chunk of the novel is Shel enlisting his buddy Dave (who can speak multiple languages, and is therefore useful) to frat-party around the timeline "looking" for Shel's father. Then, with that mystery solved, they frat party around the time line some more. Oh but wait! We're back to Shel's death. So we do some time line kerfluffling with that for a bit. Stuff happens. The end.
I was so bored with this novel. Here's a book about TIME TRAVEL! Awesome! No, Dave and Shel just make a random list of shit they want to see, and they zap about the time line watching. No interesting information happens, no new "facts" come to light. McDevitt could have had fun, could have at least pulled some alternative theories into some of the things that happen, but he doesn't. Everything that we think might have conventionally happened did... just like we thought they did. It's like he was remembering bits from his high school world history book and just strung them together in some sort of weak-sauce story. The only interaction with history was a B-story subplot that's never really developed. I'm not even sure why it's in the book.
The time travel paradox was just weird. If something was known to the travellers to have happened, they could not change it. So if you knew that something happened, went back to change it, you have a heart attack. It's just not allowed ("Cardiac principle"... really). So then these numbskulls go Google anything they're trying to figure out (you know, like going to Google to see if it played out how they were hoping, which is stupid, because then they're STUCK with that timeline). Alternatively, I suppose that means that some ignoramus could go back in time and change anything. So, really, Shel could know something, have Dave go back in time and change it... but they never do that either. Something interesting could have happened, but apparently that might have not been allowed according to the physics in this book's universe, too.
These little iPod time travelling devices not only move one through time, but through space as well, so, say someone encounters a locked door, they can just set their time travelley dealio to 5 minutes ago, on the other side of the door and unlock it for themselves in the future. Yeehaw. And yet? Still no fun!
McDevitt gets a bunch of little things wrong (or at least, he got a lot of little things wrong about stuff I know more about, there is plenty of history I'm ignorant about and I'm sure he either got that perfect or didn't)... and he was inconsistent. Shel and Dave will zap themselves silly looking for something historical that's not nailed down and never catch it, but then zap themselves *perfectly* to another event that is also not known, too. It's just weird. Easy plot device, I suppose. It feels like cheating, here, though.
And we won't into how they are waltzing all over the past (from ancient Alexandria and forward) showing off their
Gooseberries and time travelling
qPods to every single person they meet. They even took freakin' pictures with everyone. W. T. F. So stupid. So damned stupid.
They never covered the distant past (dood, dinosaurs!!!) and they barely touched on the future. So again, I feel cheated with anything interesting.
The only smart thing either of them did was make some money by either playing the ponies (zapping to the future to discover the results) or going to the past to buy artwork before it's famous.
I have to say, I'm also surprised at the publication date of this novel. It felt old and dated. Maybe it's the lack of women as anything but relationship/sex material... maybe it's the frat boy attitude... I don't know, it's just felt a lot older than it is.
Big disappointment. It wasn't terrible, it was just dumb.