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The empire that never ended

Times Without Number - John Brunner

Don Miguel Navarro is a man with a most unusual job. As a Licentiate of the Society of Time, he is a time traveling agent for a Spanish Empire that continues to thrive four hundred years after the Armada successfully conquered England in 1588. Tasked with observing the past, he is always on the lookout for improper uses of time travel lest it bring about changes to the present. A casual encounter at a party results in just such a discovery, one that leads Don Miguel to a sinister conspiracy that threatens to alter history and undo the entire empire itself unless it is stopped.

John Brunner's novel is a cut above most of its counterparts. A collection of three interlocking tales that were originally published as separate short stories, together they offer a series of entertaining adventures in an imaginative setting. His Spanish Empire is one not much more advanced technologically than its 16th century predecessor, with time travel apparently more an accident of alchemy than science. Such a premise allows Brunner to offer some fresh approaches to the concept, most notably in the notion of the careful management of time travel by religious authorities. This serves as a springboard for some interesting metaphysical observations that, when combined with Brunner's entertaining writing style, makes for a time travel novel that any fan of the genre will enjoy.