The Time Traveler’s Almanac: Is There Anybody There? by Kim Newman


Is There Anybody There? by Kim Newman

Section: Mazes and Traps

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 4/5 Rating


About the author:

Max Beerbohm’s full name was Sir Henry Maxmilian Beerbohm, once he accepted the knighthood from King George VI in 1939. An English essayist, parodist, and caricaturist, his first short story was published in 1897 (“The Happy Hypocrite”), and his novel Zuleika Dobson was published in 1911, although most of his written words were nonfiction. “Enoch Soames” plays with time travel via a deal with the Devil. It was first published in 1916 in Century Magazine.

Due to my busy work schedule the part few weeks, I haven’t been able to read any of The Time Traveler’s Almanac. That means, that this is actually the first story in the “Mazes and Traps” that I’ve read. If this represents the types of story this section has in store for me, than I am very excited.

Madame Irena is psychic who talk to those from the world beyond. Unlike many is her field though, she has the ability – for real. During one seance with one of her wealthier clients, Miss Walter-David, Irena ask the after spirits a “yes-or-no” question. Instead of moving to the “yes” or “no” symbol, the spirit guides their hands to “Y”. This is unlike any spirit Irena has talked to, and as their conversation goes on, it becomes clear that Irena and her sitter are not talking to a spirit from another world, but an actual someone.

I was very skepticl how this story was going to be – starting off in the middle of a seance with a ouija board, talking to a  spirit. I was expecting either we would time travel back to when the spirit was dead; or this would end up being a “time-travel” story, with the time-traveling being only the the background. Newman threw me a major curveball though.

While Irena and Miss Walter-David are talking to this “spirit” via a ouija board, the “spirit” is communicating with a computer (you find this out on page 2). The spirit is actually a man named Boyd, who goes primarily by the name “MstrMnd” on OnLine is Chat Rooms.

Boyd is used to playing and tricking people in Chat Rooms with his multiple accounts, and stealing their identity and money and lives; he gets a sadistic pleasure out of it, keeping tally to see how many people he has caused to commit suicide. When he starts chatting with Irena, and has difficulty finding info, he becomes to believe that he is actually being manipulated this time.

The story end ends up being a race between the two groups of people, each convinced that someone is playing them: For Irena, an evil spirit; for Boyd, an vindictive OnLine chatter.

Spolierific Speculations: (Highlight to read)



If your comments contains a spoiler, please type “SPOILER:” at the start of your comment to alert fellow readers and comments. Thanks!

I found this story to be all around great, and have zero complaints about it. And don’t have much to say except go check it out.

I was actually able to find an audio version of this book online from Tales to Terrify, the magazine Is There Anybody There? was originally published in.

Is There Anybody Therestarts at 17:00

Be sure to check out my fellow time-travelers’ reviews!

Alesha Escobar
H.M. Jones
Laurel’s Writing Desk
Timothy C. Ward

4/5 Rating



Follow along on Twitter with #TimeTravelThursday

To see a full list of The Time Traveler’s Almanac reviews and reading schedule, visit The Time Traveler’s Almanac Page

Feel free to join in any join time! Just leave a comment down below 🙂

See you next Thursday for Fish Night by Joe Lansdale

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

4 thoughts on “The Time Traveler’s Almanac: Is There Anybody There? by Kim Newman

  1. The time traveling must be pretty indirect and part of the spoiler, because I can’t guess what the link might be from the review 😀 Curious too, what the section “Mazes and Traps” might mean, thematically!


    • When I read “Mazes and Traps”, this being a time-travel anthology, I can’t help but think: butterfly effect! I really hope that’s what most of these stores will center around. We’ve only had a couple of those types so far, and I love wracking my brain about stories where the timelines get mixed up 🙂


  2. @lynnsbooks says:

    Every time I catch one of your reviews for this book I feel like I should really give it a go. I bought it what feels like eons ago! It just seems to be such a huge undertaking. I should tackle it in little batches.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s never too late to join in!:)

      At first I thought doing a story a week would be a manageable and reasonable goal, but as time as gone on, it has proven to take a little bit more of an effort (which is evident in how we went from 6 to now only 2 people actively participating). Although it would take much much longer, I feel with an anthology this size, doing 2 or even 1 story a month would be the best way to approach it.

      If you do want to join in, the dates of each story’s review is listed on my Time-Travelers Almanac page, along with what pages they are (so you could try a shorter story first). I haven’t read it yet – I will tomorrow – but this weeks story is only 7 pages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: