Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rip Van Dyke by Kate McLachlan

Publisher:               Regal Crest Enterprises

Van Hollinger has a good life.  She has plenty of friends and a woman who loves her, Patsy.  One of her friends Jill is a bit of a mad scientist who thinks she can build a time travel machine… in an RV.  Different members of their group try to humor her when she wants to do tests and they take turns sitting in the vehicle, watching lights blink and nothing happens.  Except this time something is different and Van finds herself thrown twenty years into the future into 2008.  Everyone has aged except Van and she suddenly finds herself with no home, no money, no lover and trying to cope with a twenty year gap in her knowledge base.  Although Jill swears she will find a way to undo the mistake, Van decides to try to make a life for herself in 1988.  Her disappearance had consequences though and it's confusing to know how to deal with them.  When the women discover that government agents are trying to find out the secret of time travel, the situation becomes more dire.  Van and her friends have to find a way to send her back before the agents find her, but this time the machine may not work.

Rip Van Dyke is more reminiscent of the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" than the "Rip Van Winkle" short story written by Washington Irving.  Van is given a chance to see the consequences of her not being in the lives of her friends and to assess her importance in their world.  Her lover Patsy is a wasted alcoholic and Jill has been written off by everyone as a crazy old woman, while other friends have seen significant changes in the courses their lives would have taken.  Like Van Winkle though, Van finds herself coping with technology she doesn't understand and history that she was never part of.  If anything the character should have demonstrated more confusion than she did.

This book is fine for a few hours of reading.  The plot is well developed, although based on a somewhat silly idea.  The characters tend to be stereotypical in some cases.  Bennie is a typical lesbian skirt chaser who hasn't done much in twenty years except age.  Others seem unaware to the point of being dense; however, this makes the story work as far as showing the impact of Van's absence.

It's difficult to know if McLachlan intended this to be a spoof of the original story or if she was writing a serious piece using the original as inspiration.

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