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A whale of a Time-Traveling Tale

By Mariner, member

Jun 4, 2018: This story came into my radar because of its subject matter, and I’m glad it did. History and sailing are both favorite subjects of mine, and I’m happy to say Time and Tide captured both, and from a unique perspective, to boot.

The first thing worth noting about Time and Tide is that it’s the most mature webfiction I’ve seen so far, and not in a content sense. The writing and characters both have a very "grown-up" tone to them. No fast-paced action sequences, angsty brooding, or teenage romances. Just realistic characters living their lives to the best of their ability.

Personally, I found that tone very enticing to read. Gayla (our protagonist) and Obediah (our whaling ship captain) are both wonderfully weighty characters who did a lot to capture my attention in an instant. The contrast between them – one an out of place time traveler and one a perfectly in-place sea captain – and the contrast between how they viewed the world makes for an interesting and fun story pitch.

That said, it’s easy to see how heavily the story relies on that angle when it occasionally steps away from it. A few chapters in book 2 (Essentially Arc 2 with a different naming scheme) give us a prequel-like view of how Gayla found herself traveling back in time, knowing her own future/past from historical clues. For me, this section was much less appealing than the rest of the story, and Gayla’s near-instant acclimation to the idea of time travel lacked a bit of intrigue I’d have liked to see.

But this break was very short-lived, and in no time at all the story returned to its strengths and picked back up at full sail. From there it quickly becomes a high-seas adventure in whaling and port-hopping, very well paced to give a view of the harsh daily life of the period through the eyes and commentary of our modern protagonist.

STRENGTHS: Very well written, and well researched in its history. Time and Tide offers an interesting glimpse into the past through modern eyes. Even the most mundane activities become an adventure in the full and living world the author has built. And just as soon as the protagonist has gotten used to one situation, the world throws her another even more difficult one to overcome.

WEAKNESSES: Not much in the way of plot, actually, and the story does better when it ignores it, in my opinion. That sounds like a worse criticism than it is, because Time and Tide excels when it just embraces the fantasy without searching for a logical reason. The backstory on the time travel seems to serve little purpose other than to provide quick motivation in the way of predestination paradoxes. "Why should I go on this adventure? Well because I already did, obviously!"

CONCLUSION: Time and Tide offers an excellent wandering journey through the past, and it’s at its best when it does exactly that. The world is expertly built, and the characters are appealing and endearing in a mature slice-of-life style. Following the adventures of Gayla and her captain is great fun and makes for an incredibly easy and low-stress read.

While it lacks the tension and mystery of some adventure stories, Time and Tide hits the exact mark it aims for in a more grounded tale. If you’re looking for historical sailing adventure with the novel twist of a modern-perspective on life in the past, this is definitely a story for you.

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