(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Times Loves a Hero, by Little Feat (Spotify, YouTube).
Time Loves a Hero, by Allen Steele, is the new edition of the novel formerly known as Chronospace. In turn, that novel was a fix-up of three novellas, the second of which, "... Where Angels Fear to Tread", had been previously published in independent form and had won the Hugo and Locus Award. This technique of expanding a novella (or series of novellas) into a novel seems to be a favorite of the author (his forthcoming Arkwright is another example) and he knows how to make it work perfectly. I have not read the original story and I don't know to what extent it has been modified, but the integration with the other two parts is seamless and the whole is, in this case, certainly much more than the sum of its parts.
Another technique that Steele seems to be fond of is the use of references to classic science fiction, something that is particularly evident in "The Emperor of Mars", a novella that won him another Hugo just a few years back. In Time Loves a Hero one of the main protagonists is a huge SF fan that has always wanted to see his stories published in Analog. Unfortunately, he has no talent for writing fiction but his articles on different scientific topics seem to be very popular. And one of those articles will, oddly enough, be the start of an intriguing series of events with even a Gregory Benford cameo.
Plotwise, Time Loves a Hero is a classic time-travel story, complete with paradoxes and alternate universes. The first and second novellas introduce elements that seem to be at odds but that then are nicely brought together in the third and final part. The author also includes some interesting sf-nal elements that add quite a lot to the overall enjoyment of the book. I did also like that the story is told in chapters that jump from one time to another, with some nice cliffhangers in the way. Nothing especially groundbreaking, but always very solid, making Time Loves a Hero a very satisfying read.
The novel has also some minor issues. The pace is, sometimes, a bit uneven and in some of the novellas the story that happens in one of the timelines is clearly more interesting than the other. Also, I think that the ending was a bit rushed and the explanations rely a bit too much on deductions made by the protagonists, when perhaps a bit more showing and less telling would have been preferable. Nothing really important, though, for the book reads in a breeze and is fun all the way.
All in all, I did enjoy reading Time Loves a Hero and I highly recommend it, especially if you are looking for a good, classic time-travel story. And I, once again, want to thank Open Road Media for their great work in bringing back in electronic form novels and story collections that might have been forgotten otherwise. Stay tuned, for I will be reviewing more of their books soon!