WRITTEN IN TIME by Jerry and Sharon Ahern belongs in the class of science fiction known as alternate history, akin to the late Robert Adams’ Castaways In Time, the late Leo Frankowski’s Conrad Stargard, and Eric flint’s Assiti Shards, in that it is modern man transported back in time and bringing modern inventions to those times. The one difference in this one is that it doesn’t go back as far as the previous mentioned series though.
Jerry Ahern is best known for his Survivalist series, that which soon flooded the market with a host of post nuclear war series. They’re all gone now except for a couple. After an initial few books about post holocaust America, the series went even further into SF with cryogenics, John Thomas Rourke and his family sleeping five hundred years, emerging into a renewed world with a whole new set of enemies. It’s been a lot of years since I read the last Survivalist book and I still remember them. How they would hold up today to the more sophisticated reader that I am, hopefully, I don’t know.
It’s the early nineties. Jack Naile and his wife, Ellen, are freelance writers, with novels and articles in gun magazines to their credit(obviously modeled after the book’s authors). They get fan letters every now and again. One day one comes with an unusual clipping. It was from an early magazine and was of a 1904 street scene in a town called Atlas, Nevada. Visible in the background was a store front with a sign that read-Jack Naile – General Merchandise.
Intrigued, Jack makes inquiries, talking to the town historian, and getting pictures of Naile sent from the town records. Maybe an ancestor. What he got floored Ellen and him. A picture of the Naile family at the time, it was unmistakeably Jack and Ellen with their grown children, Tom and Libby. Right down to Jack’s hat modeled after the one Richard Boone wore in Have Gun, Will Travel and the custom holster and sidearm he owned, stuff definitely way beyond 1904 technology.
Research showed that the Naile family of the past was always at the forefront of new technology, the son starting a company, Horizon Industries, and shepherding it successfully through the depression, investing in stocks that proved out, building one of the biggest, richest, companies in the world.
A hard thing to believe, but it was inescapable. Somehow, sometime, they would be catapulted into the past.
So they began planning what they would carry with them. A Suburban was included, with an extra set of tires/wheels, some simple modern conveniences, plans for a water wheel to generate electricity, wiring and receptacles, books on microfiche, readers, plenty of batteries, and money. For that, some gold was carried, but it was just to heavy to be practical. So diamonds went along. And weapons. Modern weapons styled after the armament of the times. Or close enough to pass.
When it happened, it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Experiments on something new being conducted, a thunderstorm, ball lightning, all combined in a fluke to knock the Nailes back into the past. Not a true time machine, it could be reproduced, but could only work on a fixed number of years: just under a hundred. As time passes in the future, time would pass in the past.
Jack and Ellen, along with their children, set up their new life in 1896.
As usual in these sorts of stories, the secret gets out and a competitor to modern day Horizon Industries steps into the past, with less honorable intentions.
Their politics aside, Jack and Sharon Ahern have written a fun book to read. Part western, part science fiction, Teddy Roosevelt gets involved, still Governor, but running as vice president with William McKinley. There are the usual tropes one might find in a western, but ramped up. Battles, gunfights, a train chase with a helicopter in pursuit(not giving anything away here. Check the cover).