A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
By Rob Williams
Looking for one of the best novels of the past year penned by a Vermont writer? Consider picking up Greg Guma’s Dons Of Time, which Kirkus Reviews praises as a “well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world.” One of Vermont’s most astute progressive thinkers, writers, and historians, Guma has tried his hand at fiction for many years, and the highly entertaining Dons is easily his best work to date.
Begun as a thought experiment and a synthesis – part fantasy/sci-fi, some speculation, a steady stream of political commentary and a bit of satire – Guma’s novel creates two parallel worlds and then blends them together via the power of time travel. The first world, set in the present-day United States and Burlington, Vermont (local landmarks and personalities make several cameos), features protagonist Tonio Wolfe. The son of a corrupt vulture capitalist, Wolfe becomes privy to a new and highly secret media technological breakthrough – Remote Viewing (RV) – and finds himself catapulted back to London (world #2), the archaetypal world city of the late 19th century Gilded Age. Wolfe sets out to test Remote Viewing technology, and then finds himself stranded in the past, seeking both a beautiful lover and a famous serial killer (Francis Tumblety – a.k.a. “Jack The Ripper”). Our intrepid traveler also discovers some disturbing secrets about his father’s financial dealings along the way, and sets out to expose present-day corruption even as he wrestles with murderous Gilded Age excesses from a century before.
Not lost on discerning readers will be the similarities Guma explores between Mark Twain’s “Gilded Age” – a world of robber barons, speculation, greed, political and corporate corruption, and the rise of sensationalistic mass media – and our own time. Guma makes 19th century agrarian populist and apocalyptic utopian futurist Ignatius Donnelly one of the novel’s critical voices, referencing Donnelly’s 1888 novel Caesar’s Column: A Story Of The Twentieth Century, which described a world one hundred years in the future full of “enormous cities, vast communications systems, great ships that travel through the air,” a “degraded society where the rich have godlike power, millions live in poverty, and the only way out is violent revolution (page 337).” Sounds more familiar by the day, perhaps.
Readers expecting Dons Of Time to be little more than a thinly-veiled political screed will be pleasantly surprised. Guma deftly embeds his social and political commentary in a taut, suspenseful, and action-packed time travel story that feels surprisingly contemporary, and what makes Dons Of Time so fun are the novel’s many layers. Not too spoil any of the fun, but where else can you find references to HAARP, Theophism, high-tech time travel, Jack the Ripper, tantric sex, Nikola Tesla, the NSA, Madame Blavatsky, and Burlington’s waterfront neighborhood in a single book?
Buckle your seat belt, don your Google Glass wear, and order Guma’s latest novel through www.fomitepress.com, and while you are there, take a moment to check out a host of other books by independent Vermont writers.