The Boys Are Back In Town

Many people who read and write science fiction believe that through the last few decades science fiction has actually prepared society for future technological advances. The idea, some say, is that in science fiction all the pitfalls, moral uncertainties, and roads best not traveled can be discovered and worked out in the pages of entertaining fiction, rather than bitter experience.

So why won't this generation learn? If science fiction has taught us one thing, it's that if you have the ability to go into the past in order to change events and make the world a better place... don't do it! You're just gonna fuck it up.

The Boys Are Back In Town, by Christopher Golden

Will James hates magic so much that he has made his column at the Boston Tribune his pulpit against the mystics, psychics, faith healers and other frauds that bilk the public. At the coaxing of his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he decides to take a break from his little crusade to go back home for his ten-year high school reunion.

But things don't go like he planned at the reunion. Well, that is, they do and they don't. At the same time. Mike Lebo died ten years ago? But I just talked to him last week! How can Ashleigh be barren? I'm her children's godfather!

Will is treated to a disorienting and nausea inducing sensation of his memories fading and new memories crowding in to replace them. Two versions of the past fight for prominence in Will's mind. Until at last, the spell is broken, and the veil is lifted from his eyes.

Back in high school, Will dabbled in black magic and did some terrible things. Now it's come back to bite him in the ass, and he has to go back into the past to change the world back to the way it was.

Son of a bitch!

The Good: If you're a die-hard Buffy fan, you probably know who Christopher Golden is. He writes many Buffy and X-Men tie-in novels and comics, along with writing fiction in his own worlds. He's a very busy man.

Christopher has a great knack for clever ideas. The idea of the potential slayers being killed off one by one in the seventh season of Buffy? Christopher did it first in his Spike & Dru novel. Spike on a submarine on the last season of Angel? Christopher's all "been there, done that."

His vivid imagination doesn't fail him here. In this novel, Christopher may have come up with the first time travel story I have read or seen that doesn't have inconsistencies caused by people changing the past. That's not an easy trick.

He also writes good teenagers, probably because he has so much practice doing it. Best friends one minute, conniving the next, remorseful the next. Needing to borrow the car keys from Mom to go out and do things Mom wouldn't approve of, while still making it home for curfew. He writes them as real people, and not the idealized figures of the WB.

The Bad: The prose is a bit dry, and it's a little too easy to figure out who is behind it all. But not a bad read, nonetheless.

The Ugly: Nothing ugly, really.

Just an interesting side note: Mr. Golden writes extensively in a world with a teen aged witch named Willow who practices black magic at one point. In this novel, he writes about a teen aged witch named William who practices black magic at one point. Coincidence?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Boys Are Back in Town by Christopher Golden
Published by: Bantam; February 3, 2004
ISBN: 0553382071
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Author's Webpage:

About Joe Murphy

Joe Murphy succumbed to leiomyosarcoma on April 1, 2007. The irony of this is not lost on any who knew him and laughed with him. He was the first “official” book reviewer for The Dragon Page Radio Talk Show, and after moving to Arizona, he became a frequent contributor to Cover to Cover, Wingin’ It, Slice of SciFi and co-host of Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas.

He will be missed.

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