Pirates of the Timestream by Steve White
Jason Thanou is back in action in Pirates of the Timestream (2013). In this third novel in Steve White’s TEMPORAL REGULATORY AUTHORITY series, Jason is again sent back in time to witness important historical events.
In the previous two novels, Blood of the Heroes and Sunset of the Gods (which it would be helpful, but not necessary, to read first), Jason and his colleagues had discovered that the Temporal Regulatory Authority they work for is not the only institution that owns a time-travelling device, and that an evil cult of future transhumanists are plotting to alter history. The transhumanists have been fiddling with the timestream, trying to make events come out in their future favor. This will not be good for humanity.
When the Temporal Regulatory Authority gets intel indicating that the transhumanists have crashed a spaceship back in the Caribbean in the late 1600s, Jason and Dr. Boyer, an academic who studies the Caribbean region, are sent to Port Royal, in Jamaica, to investigate. To blend in, they’ll pretend to be pirates. As soon as they arrive, they run into a Jamaican woman who turns out to be a cyborg sent by the transhumanists. She warns them that the Teloi aliens are also active there. Jason thought he had wiped them out 2,000 years ago, but apparently not.
As Jason and his colleagues attempt to neutralize both the Teloi and the transhumanists, they team up with the famous Captain Henry Morgan. They know they must be careful to get off Morgan’s ship (HMS Oxford) before it explodes in 1669. Then a hurricane ruins their plans and causes some time-travel paradoxes that must be solved if human history is to stay on course.
Pirates of the Timestream is a good installment in this series. The previous book, Sunset of the Gods, felt too much like Blood of the Heroes in setting and plot. Pirates of the Timestream has some plot elements that have been used in the previous books (e.g., nerdy academics trying to solve historical mysteries, the transhumanists starting a cult in the past, a woman who gets her tracking device removed and prefers to stay in the past), but it’s set in Jamaica and on a pirate ship, giving it a much fresher feel. The sexism that I complained about in the first couple of books isn’t a problem here, but that’s mostly due to the absence of female academics on the current team. (Though there is one back at the base and Dr. Boyer is Haitian, so that’s some nice academic diversity.)
I enjoyed the Caribbean setting and learned a lot about the history of the region including sugar plantations, slavery, Jamaican legends, voodoo, and Henry Morgan (who was a fun character). If you’re a fan of the series, I expect that you’ll like this one.
I recommend Tantor Audio’s version which is nicely performed by Andrew Eiden. Too bad they couldn’t use the cover art from the print edition which was painted by Hugo-winning artist Don Maitz, the artist who gave us the Captain Morgan of the rum bottle. (He’s also husband to Janny Wurts, who painted the FanLit dragon).