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Book review

‘A Long Time Until Now’ draws on vet’s experience, imagination

By SETH ROBSON | Stars and Stripes | Published: December 13, 2016

Ten U.S. soldiers are on a convoy in Afghanistan when there’s a loud bang that everyone thinks is a roadside bomb or a rocket-propelled grenade.

In fact, the group and their MRAP armored personnel carriers have been hurled thousands of years back in time to the Paleolithic age, when woolly mammoths roamed the earth and primitive people struggled to survive in a harsh environment.

Deployed troops sometimes dream up crazy scenarios based on their war experiences, but few take it as far as Michael Z. Williamson.

The science fiction author served five years in the Air Force, including tours in support of Iraqi Freedom, and also did time in the Army and Air Force national guards.

His recent book, “A Long Time Until Now,” follows the fortunes of a junior Army officer, 1st Lt. Sean Elliot, and a group of enlisted soldiers caught in the time warp.

The troops have their work cut out for them to survive in an austere environment with limited supplies but, by working as a team and using the skills of each member, they carve out a semblance of civilization and befriend some of the primitive people they encounter.

The soldiers build a wooden palisade around their camp, construct teepees out of animal hides and even make their own Jacuzzi, which is fodder for some awkward moments between the politically correct-minded male and female soldiers.

It isn’t long before other time-traveling warriors show up. The Americans, who brought their modern weapons back in time, don’t have too much trouble defeating Neolithic types but they face a sterner test when a group of Romans arrive on the scene and attempt to overpower them.

Things look up after a pair from the distant future rolls up to the camp in a high-tech vehicle equipped with all kinds of useful tools and a device that resembles Woody Allen’s orgasmatron in the 1973 movie “Sleeper.”

After years living in the past, the troops finally discover how they got there when future scientists whisk everyone forward in time. After a brief period experiencing the wonders of the future they’re sent home and arrive back in Afghanistan six months after they disappeared with plenty of explaining to do.

Robson.seth@stripes.com
Twitter: @SethRobson1

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