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In Times Like These #3
Description⎮Reviewed Nov. 2016
Narrator: Neil Hellegers
Length: 19h 05m
Publisher: Skylighter Press⎮2016
4.5★ Audiobook⎮”Ben Travers has gone missing, and Ben Travers needs to find him.” That has to be one of the most intriguing taglines I’ve ever heard. To someone who has never been introduced to this series, it probably seems pretty bizarre. But having been previously exposed to Van Coops’ unique version of time travel, it seems par for the course.
The Day After Never was definitely the most science fiction-y of the In Times Like These trilogy. Most of this installment takes place in the far distant future, in direct contrast with the first installment, which was largely set the 1980s. Even so, there were passing references and parallels between the two. The second installment, The Chronothon, spent time in various historical settings and briefly visited the distant future, but nothing like this.
Van Coops’ idea of the future wasn’t as apocalyptic as that of some time travel stories. His descriptions of the future actually reflected some of today’s ideas, like all major roads having designated roads for animal crossing. In today’s mainstream society, that may seem like an unlikely concept, but Van Coops’ imagined society considered it a common necessity. I think the reason that particular idea stood out to me was because of its realistic nature. In contrast to some of the more far-fetched aspects of this “future” (robots, synthetic humans, etc.), this was a concept I could actually wrap my head around. It made the future seem not so far away. It was relatable. That’s what I look for in good science fiction.
There were also a few surprise appearances by characters from previous installments. Mym was there, although I do think she’s a character that deserved more exploration. Cowboy Bob made a delightful appearance and Dr. Quickly was as entertaining as ever. I’ve never mentioned this in previous reviews, but the way Van Coops opens every chapter with a short excerpt from Dr. Quickly’s journals is worth noting. Especially in The Day After Never, the excerpts provided a bit of comic relief to lighten some of the more intense moments. The Day After Never certainly had a darker tone than either of its predecessors. The series became increasingly “heavier” with each installment, so the continuity of the journal excerpts marking each chapter helped tie all three installments together and provided lighter notes.
The installments in the trilogy had a separate internal plot that was usually begun and resolved within each respective book. There was also a vaguely overarching storyline, mostly surrounding the characters, that spanned the entirety of the trilogy. I wish that there had been a stronger sense of continuity between the installments, which would have helped better develop the fictional “world”, but I appreciate that Mr. Van Coops took a different approach to the series. Certain elements of The Day After Never reminded me of Rysa Walker’s series The Chronos Files, although this series seems to be geared towards a more mature audience. However, I can recall in it that would be inappropriate for a younger audience.
Narration review: Neil Hellegers’ narration is perfectly suited for science fiction. I’ve mentioned his action-oriented pacing in a previous review and how his voice holds a sense of urgency that never lets my attention wander. While listening to this installment, I realized that Hellegers’ crisp, clipped articulation lends itself very well to a science fiction reading. His characterization of Dr. Quickly also stands out poignantly in my mind. I can’t recall any physical description of Dr. Quickly, though I’m sure there was one given in the first installment, but Neil Hellegers’ distinct vocalization of the character paints a mental image as good as any written descriptors. Each of these installments were quite hefty in length, but Hellegers’ narration made the time fly by. Although this series has come to an end, I hope to be able to hear much more from Mr. Hellegers. Few narrators can hold my attention the way he can. ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Neil Hellegers, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Neil!
$ Available at Audible/Amazon