“The Time Saving Agency” – Quantum Book 2

The Time Saving Agency’ is the second title in the Quantum Series by Christina Engela – a writer described as ‘that rarest of authors – able to seamlessly blend together elements of dark horror and sci-fi to create stories that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned.’ (Mark Woods, author of ‘Time of Tides’ and ‘Fear of the Dark‘). Her writing in the sci-fi genre has been described as ‘one of the most unique and captivating styles I’ve encountered in science fiction.’ (Alex S. Johnson, author of The Doom Hippies.)

Set a few months after the first book (‘Black Sunrise’), ‘The Time Saving Agency’ continues the saga of Cindy-Mei Winter, a former Colonial Intelligence Agency agent now residing on the charming Terran colony world called Deanna, populated by a unique blend of western-esque characters, alien life-forms – including the ubiquitous crabby-grass. By now, Winter and Beck’s romance has become a fact of life, and the two characters have learned to accept each other’s differences – in the case of Gary, Mei’s transgender status, and in the case of Mei, Beck’s stubborn independence and quirks. In this tale however, Cindy-Mei Winter takes more of a back-seat as Gary Beck takes on a more active role as a lead-character.

In this story, Engela takes on the concept of time-travel – which is never an easy feat for any writer to pull off successfully. With ‘The Time Saving Agency’ she demonstrates clearly both her writing skills and her ability to put forth complicated ideas – often with a few wise-cracks and comedic tricks thrown in for good measure. The plot of ‘The Time Saving Agency’ involves the activities of an inter-dimensional time-policing agency, which incarcerates ‘time terrorists’ – that is, people who have attempted to (or succeeded at one – er, time or another) alter Time for their own ends – for well, all time. Trouble threatens when one of these inmates somehow manages to escape this inter-dimensional prison, and heads to – you guessed it – Deanna. Brad Xyl, the villain in this tale, is well-described and Engela presents him as a combination of frustratingly insane and attractive at the same time. After his amusing appearance on Deanna, which leads to all kinds of trouble for the many secondary characters in Atro City – to mention Albrecht and The Very Reverend Ramsley Valcovar (The Third) in particular – he sets his plan in motion. His plan? To destroy not only Deanna, but the entire universe – with the help of a local quantum physicist with a knack for blowing things up and losing his eyebrows in the process. It’s a perfect match.

Enter Time Agent Johnathan Scrooby – a man on a mission to save the universe. Gary Beck being the resident go-to guy on Deanna, Scrooby enlists his aid and together they work to foil Xyl’s plan and undo what damage he’s done to the already sufficiently traumatized timeline.

While not exactly central to the theme of the whole story, ‘The Time Saving Agency’, unlike ‘Black Sunrise’, doesn’t concentrate on Cindy-Mei Winter being a transgender woman. Rather, it treats the topic respectfully as a detail of her and Beck’s relationship. Engela, being a transwoman herself, presents the views of Beck, who while completely accepting of Winter as his girlfriend, still harbors a curiosity about her past life, along with how he rationalizes past any likely social obstacles.

The characters in ‘Black Sunrise’ and ‘The Time Saving Agency’ continue their adventures in the next book in the Quantum Series: ‘Dead Man’s Hammer’.

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