19 February 2016
John A Heldt: The Mine
I am a bit of a sucker for the fantasy of time-travel tales. It is interesting to see the different time vortexes (eg jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, using a special watch, and walking down special steps at the right time etc.), the different reactions to moving to another time period and the problems of whether to return home (if they can), and should they do things that might affect the course of history. With THE MINE John Heldt has started off a series of time-travel tales that are well written, and cleverly plotted to make the most of this fantasy genre.
In 2000 Joel Smith is a confident and adventurous college senior with no worries in the world. One day during a trip to Montana he sees a TV news item about a very rare significant planetary conjunction. Soon after, following his keen interest in geology he breaks into a boarded-up abandoned mine, passes through a glowing passageway and when he comes out he finds himself in mid-1941, a time only a few months away from Pearl Harbour in days of swing music and a peacetime draft in anticipation of war.
After the initial shock of finding himself in the past, Joel quickly finds his way back to his hometown of Seattle by jumping a freight train. Down on his luck with no money, hungry and tired he helps an apparently rich young man, Tom, from being mugged. Tom takes him home and lets him live in a trailer in the garden. He also introduces him to his girlfriend Ginnie a lovely free-spirited young girl of 21. How would you react to meeting your beloved Grandmother in her youth?
Joel slowly settles down to life in the 1940's, becomes a star salesman in Tom's father's furniture store and makes a lot of money carefully betting on sporting events where he knows the outcome. He makes many friends, especially among Ginnie's circle of beautiful independent-minded young females. Then Joel meets Grace..... But then Pearl Harbour is just around the corner and the rare confluence of planets is about to happen again that may give him a chance to go back to where he belongs.
John Heldt is a great storyteller and seems to have had a lot of fun putting together a bunch of great characters in an unusual setting. I thoroughly enjoyed this fairly short, well-written, entertaining tale with frequently tender (but not explicit) relationships. I see that he has written 5 books in this series and look forward to joining Heldt's other time travellers in their adventures. 4.5 stars.