The 1800 Club by Robert P. McAuley

 

Science FictionThe 1800 Club by Robert P. McAuley

When he needs to visit a simpler time, ex-Navy SEAL Bill Scott goes to the 1800 Club in New York City. When he enters the door there for dinner he leaves the 21st century behind. Everyone who attends dresses and talks as if they are living in the 1860’s. People who join the club have to keep to “club speak” or they are asked to leave. Bill loves it and visits often.

One night President Stevens asks Bill to stay after the other guests leave. Bill learns the secret of the 1800 Club. In the mid 21st century a time travel machine has been built. The members of the time tracking group send robotic monitors into the past and keep an eye on it. Occasionally they see something is going off track from their known history. They then contact the club in 2011. Due to changes in the air quality, they would die in the 1800’s. But the people from the early 21st century can endure. Then President Stevens corrects the incident either by himself or by a very few hand picked members. This time he needs Bill’s help.

Once he accepts the idea of time travel Bill is glad – actually excited – to help. He prepares to return to the 1860’s and repair some history that is trying to go wrong. That would then change the outcome of future battles of the Civil War, which would then change history even further as time goes on. After he returns he is in for another surprise. Prescott Stevens is ready to retire back to his own time. How would Bill like to be the new president of the 1800 Club? How would Bill like to be in charge of nudging history back into line when it starts to skew?

Bill Scott starts a whole new era of his life. It’s one where he can live in 2011 or 1863 or 1945 or… He studies the members of the 1800 Club who would be good emissaries to travel back. All of these members are people who prefer the quieter, slower times despite the problems those time periods had. They all learn that no matter what the time period, people are the same. They have the same types of hopes and dreams for themselves and to better their children. They discuss the weather or current events or women or men just the same as people do now. Bill and his emmisaries learns that the 1860’s isn’t full of black and white grainy people like the photographs, but real flesh and blood people in bright colors.

What a wonderful book! For the first half I kept expecting some dastardly shadowy being to be causing the small changes in history that could have large ramifications. But I finally realized that this book is a group of short stories. Each concentrates on a different incident. There’s one where an English Navy press gang takes a man from his Scots home and a future president is never born because the man never has children. There is one where a boat explosion kills a future great man. There is one where a person who had disappeared appears right on time after all. Each of the initial incidents started small but had large ramifications.

Robert P. McAuley has written a charming, fun book. He keeps it very realistic when the time travelers go back. Not only is the reader reminded of the ever present horse manure, especially in the city, and the stench, but the flies, cats, and rats that go along with it. There is still pollution, but it’s different. McAuley did his research on the time periods he “rescues” in the book.

I had a wonderful time reading The 1800 Club. I enjoyed getting back to it. I like time travel stories, as I’ve often said. McAuley doesn’t add any new twists to the genre. Even so, he writes a tale about people. It doesn’t matter when they live or what they do.

The paradox factor is even addressed. One person finally has the sense to ask Bill that did history go back the way it was supposed to after his group intervened, or had they changed it and it’s the changes that now are in effect?

The book is fairly simple, an easy read. There’s no sex, graphic violence, or gore. The characters don’t get real deep, but don’t need to for this book. It’s good entertainment. My only real complaint is the physical size. The paper is quite substantial and the book is trade size. It gets hard to hold after a while. At times that was the reason I quit reading for the evening. Don’t let that deter you, though. The 1800 Club is a fun time just waiting for you.

More books by Robert P. McAuley

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