“The creature inside dropped the arm he was gnawing and swung up his massive axe instantly.” So begins the adventure Sugar and her pals have with her uncle’s time machine in this highly imaginative extended short story by Joy V. Smith.
The creature is a cave man that hitched a ride on the way back from the time machine’s last foray into the past. Unfortunately, it has just about devoured its co-travelers, the original pilots of the extraordinary vehicle, and Sugar, Japheth, Izzy and Frank are forced to shoot it dead.
Confused yet? I haven’t even mentioned the two Cheshire cats that also somehow made the time jump. Their names are Mingus and Rell. Oh, and they communicate telepathically.
So much to assimilate, so little time.
That’s about the only criticism I have about this clever little tale — the reader is dropped quite suddenly into the middle of the story and must make quantum leaps of plot-logic to keep up.
Anyway, it becomes necessary to dispose of the bodies of the two original time travelers, (to escape detection of the time machine, one imagines), so they hover on down I-45 to Galveston Island and rent a boat, which they then promptly sink with the bodies on board.
What happens next is classified; I don’t do spoilers. But suffice to say that Sugar and friends encounter a couple of sabre-tooth tigers in their next trip back in time, and bring home a stone-tipped spear as a souvenir.
All in all, quite a fantastic read. Still, it felt a bit rushed, as though the author had a deadline to meet.
I give Sugar Time four stars, based mainly on the concept and excellent writing and editing. If you like time-travel yarns, this will make a fine addition to your collection.