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Time Future    by Maxine McArthur order for
Time Future
by Maxine McArthur
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2001 (1999)
* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

Commander Halley is the descendant of a family, which has fought for justice on Earth. Now she has the distinction of being in charge of Earth's first, and only, outspace station. However it is blockaded by an alien fleet and dangerously overcrowded by refugees of many species. Its defences are down and there is no relief in sight.

Earth is a minor member of the Confederacy of Allied Worlds, of which only the four founding members hold the secret to FTL spacedrive. They guard it jealously from the other nine members. Consequently, the arrival of a ship from old Earth with three humans in cryogenic pods is a major mystery. Next, an alien trader is murdered, apparently by one of a race of monster warriors, thought to be long extinct.

This greatly increases the already existing tension between humans and the alien races. Unless Halley can find the killer or somehow raise the blockade, Jocasta may explode in a riot of destruction, either from within or without. An unwelcome complication is the arrival of Halley's ex-husband, a H'Digh warrior with inviting sexual pheromones and his own agenda for action.

Time Future is a surprisingly good first novel, with not only believable alien races but also a strong and well characterized human heroine. The universe in which the story is set is strange and complex, with interlocking layers, but McArthur keeps a tight rein on the plot, so that the essential story moves rapidly along. This is an author to watch out for in future.

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