Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry (book review).

‘Million Eyes: Extra Time’ is a sort of prequel to the upcoming ‘Million Eyes’ trilogy by C.R. Berry, the first of which will be released early in 2020. This book, now available as a free download from publisher Elsewhen Press, features a dozen short stories set in the ‘Million Eyes’ universe, which is very like our own universe but with time travel and conspiracy theories added for fun.

All of the conspiracy theories are true! It was the time travellers what did it.

Nine of the stories have been previously published and praised. Indeed, it was my plaudits for ‘The Home Secretary Is Safe’ which appeared in Phantaxis # 6 that inspired the author to notify me of this book. ‘Phantaxis’, alas, has closed down for now. Small magazines struggle no matter how good their content. It may come back. Let’s hope.

Anyway, ‘Million Eyes: Extra Time’ opens with ‘Rachel Can See’. Rachel Evans is a year eight student in an English school but gets in trouble when she argues with a girl who claims to be her best friend. Rachel doesn’t know her. She gets in more trouble with her history teacher because her work is excellent but all wrong. This is because she remembers a different history.

Clearly there is some sort of mental problem but the GP can’t help so he sends her to a hypnotherapist. Then she’s sent to an institution for further tests. Rachel’s awareness of the unadjusted timeline is an infernal nuisance to the time travellers who have been altering events, so they make her disappear. She features in a number of the stories.

‘Rachel Can See’ is really an introduction to the stories that follow. It would spoil the book to give away the plots but if you can think of a conspiracy theory, chances are that C.R. Berry has it here. The assassination of President Kennedy is covered in ‘The Babushka Lady’ with a person in the crowd who is seen photographing the event.

‘The Bisley Boy’ focuses on Elizabeth I of England and an odd event in her childhood. In ‘The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller’, a lady with a mobile phone is seen in the crowd queuing up to see his film, ‘The Circus’, in 1923. I found ‘Eryl Mai’s Dream’ chilling and sad. A little girl who sees a terrible blackness enveloping her school. Marilyn Monroe was killed and Paul McCartney died, too, just like they said back in the 60s. C.R. Berry covers all the bases of urban legend.

Summing it up like that makes it sound rather glib and lightweight but it really isn’t. Berry has a very readable style so getting into the stories is easy. The plots are clever. He also populates them with a variety of ordinary people who get caught up in the time travellers’ net. It’s never clear what they are up to but I guess that’s coming up in the trilogy.

Meanwhile, this is an enjoyable read in its own right. All the stories work as standalones and have been published as such in a variety of places and it’s free! Obviously, that’s a cunning ploy to get you to buy ‘Million Eyes’ the novel when it comes out but I think the ploy might work.

Eamonn Murphy

November 2019

(pub: Elsewhen Press, 2019. 176 page ebook. Price: FREE!)

check out website: https://elsewhen.press/index.php/catalogue/title/million-eyes-extra-time/

Eamonn Murphy

Eamonn Murphy reviews books for sfcrowsnest and writes short stories for small press magazines. His eBooks are available at all good retailers or see his website: https://eamonnmurphywriter298729969.wordpress.com/

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