On the Watchtower at Plataea by Garry Killworth
Section: Reactionaries and Revolutionares
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5 Rating
Despite nothing happening, I actually enjoyed this.
About the author:
Garry Kilworth is a critically acclaimed British writer with over eighty novels and short-story collection somewhere out there in the ether, mainly fantasy and science fiction, but a few other genres too. He’s currently writing a science fiction novel with the working title of Ring-a-Ring o’ Roses. This story was first published in Other Edens II in 1988.
Maybe it was the prose? Maybe it was the Ancient Greek and Roman setting? Whatever it was, I enjoyed this story. This came as a major shock to me, because nothing happens. I didn’t really feel any conflict or suspension. It is just our main protagonist telling us what was going on. The ending though, was what made this go from a “3” to a “4”.
Stan and his two fellow crew members are time-travellers. Their job is to travel into the past to record and observer – not interact or interfere – with certain events in history, to get the true facts of what happens.
A slight problem has occurred at the year 429 B.C.E, when the Spartans were attacking the Athenians at Plataea: they cannot travel any further back in time; a vortex interference. Vortex are only created when some else in traveling time. So, if they are going back in time, then it must mean that someone else is going forward…
The only real action that happens – besides a chess match between Stan and Jon – is the battle between the Spartans and Athenians. It is the team’s job to watch this event unfold and to record what actually happens, and then to report it back to base camp, so that may have a true record of what happens. The majority of this story, is Stan telling us about the battle at Plataea.
Personally, I was an Classic major, so I enjoyed hearing the story, but even if you aren’t into history, I think you would enjoy reading this. Stan doesn’t narrate the battle as a history text, but as a story.
Things do get interesting when they notice another group of individuals in another God’s temple across from them, whom they believe to be another set of time-travelers. And with the way the time-traveling work, the teams appears almost like holograms, and it being ancient times, the people believe them to be actual gods. So when, they decided to go over to investigate the other temple and walk through the town, people claiming that they have seen Gods walking amongst men, will not affect the future.
As for the time-travel, well… it has something to do a physiological state. Not really sure how it makes travel possible, or how it creates a void in time or makes them appear hologram-like, but it does those things, and because of those things we have that conflict in time.
For other conflict… I didn’t feel it – at any time. Not when they went in to town, not when they saw the other team of travelers in the other tower, not when they “drawing short straws at the end”. Even the characters didn’t really feel all the much to me. I knew what each personality had for the story, but I didn’t feel them. That connection was lacking.
Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)
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What saved this story from just think it was average was ending. It nothing jaw dropping or mind-blowing; neither is it deep or moving. I simply thought it made a very nice point, made a little mores sense why we heard so much about the battle at Plataea, and put things in to perspective about time. When I read it, I was like, “Hmm… that was very good.”
Not the fast-pace, action-packed story you might expect when you hear a time-travel story taking place during a Roman-Greek battle, but it was good. Although, I not sure this one will be for everybody.
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See you next Thursday for Alexia and Graham Bell by Rosaleen Love