The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

A short Hugo-winning novel, The Big Time benefits from employing a limited number of characters at a fixed place over a few hours of narrative time, as if adhering to the dramatic unities of place, action, and a much modified sense of time. Initially, the narrator provides exposition leading up to a mystery. He then attempts to solve the mystery and rescue the group from disaster. The story is told as if to inform or to forewarn a newcomer to the temporal context the novel describes. The events reveal a greater sense of the problems associated with altering history.

Greta Forsane, an entertainer, tells of an experience at the Recuperation Station that reveals to her much about herself. The station is also manned by Sid, the officer in charge; Doc, a drunken veteran; Maud, an older party girl; Lilli, a recent addition; and Beau, second in command. They work for the Spiders, their side in the Change War. Their duties include healing wounded soldiers, operating the machinery that allows pickup and delivery of soldiers, and entertaining soldiers while they rest and recuperate. According to a previous plan, they pick up three soldiers on a scheduled arrival: Eric, a Nazi; Mark, a Roman; and Bruce, a Briton from the early 1900’s. All characters are people who were resurrected from different times and places and brought into The Big Time. The arriving soldiers were engaged in a conflict in Saint Petersburg in 1883, attempting to kidnap an infant...

(The entire section is 489 words.)