Lis Carey Review: Doing Time

Three new recruits have joined the Time Police, at what turns out to be a critical, and dangerous, moment in its own history. Jane Lockland finally had enough of being her grandmother’s unpaid servant. Matthew Farrell is the son of two leading historians at St. Mary’s, the Time Police’s nemesis organization. He wants to work on the Time Map. Luke Parrish is the son of a billionaire, who has tried his father’s patience too far, and been coerced into the Time Police. They are definitely Team Weird. They can’t even do their first “gruntwork” assignments in the approved way, and the fact that they do them anyway really ticks people off. This puts them in the line of fire of the traditionalists in the Time Police, who want to throw out not just them, but the reformers who are bringing in all this change, like being more conservative about use of shoot to kill orders against Time Police officers they disagree with…

Doing Time (The Time Police #1), by Jodi Taylor
Headline Publishing Group, ISBN 9781472266781, October 2019

Review By Lis Carey: The invention of time travel led to the Time Wars, which led to the Time Police, who solve problems by ruthless, thorough, application of force. Stop the illegal time travelers, bring home for prosecution any who are unaccountably still alive, and burn what’s left. The Time Police have a rival, or nemesis, St. Mary’s who, they will assure you don’t do time travel. That would be illegal. They study major historical events in contemporary time. The earliest (in internal chronological order) of the St. Mary’s Chronicles is The Very First Damned Thing (Chronicles of St. Mary’s 0.5)

It’s very easy to see why the rules-oriented Time Police aren’t fond of the scholarly and chaotic St. Mary’s crew.

In this first of the Time Police stories, there are three new recruits. One is Jane Lockland, a rather meek, quiet, young woman who has finally bailed on being her grandmother’s unpaid servant. One is Luke Parrish, son of a billionaire, whose casual, self-indulgent lifestyle has finally angered his father sufficiently to bribe the Time Police to take him as a recruit. Another is Matthew Farrell, son of two of the historians at St. Mary’s. In fact, his mother, Dr. Maxwell, is the one whom the Time Police find most infuriating.

The three of them have survived the classroom portion of their training, and are now ready to be assigned to field training –“gruntwork.” Most recruits have over the last weeks sorted themselves into natural teams of four — with three left over. These three. Who are not at all the ordinary sort of Time Police recruits. There’s been a drive to increase diversity, in part due to a recognition at the top that with the Time Wars definitely over, they need to adopt a new approach to the new problematic time travelers — time tourists, speculators, big business, and organized crime. Jane fits the desire to have more women. Matthew is a nerd who wants to work on the Time Map after his gruntwork training, and is well suited to it. Luke — Luke is proof that enough money can buy almost anything.

These three didn’t even naturally attract each other. They’re just the three left over, stuck together for lack of alternatives. Major Ellis takes them on as his team, and bribes an earlier St. Mary’s refugee, Officer Celia North, who didn’t like the chaotic atmosphere at St. Mary’s and fled to the greater order of the Time Police, to be the missing fourth member of his new team.

That team, Team 236 officially, Team Weird according to others, doesn’t do anything the right way. Whether going after an amateur time traveler who jumps forward a week to find out the winning lottery numbers, or a single, pregnant rabbit genetically engineered to be immune to super myxomatosis and released into Australia, or as supporting members of a large team to stop a raid on King Tut’s tomb three thousand years ago, they don’t do anything the Time Police Way,

And yet, they do it. They get their jobs done. Matthew even brings down three time traveling tomb raiders and prevents Major Ellis from dying of his gunshot wound during that operation to protect Tut’s tomb.

They are starting to gel as a team.

Which is when they stumble into the crosshairs of a faction among the “traditional” Time Police officers, the ones who don’t think people like Team Weird, or women generally, or people with any connection to St. Mary’s, or with other nontraditional characteristics, should be recruited. Who don’t think people like Commander Hay (head of the Time Police), or Major Ellis, should be running things.

That’s when things go all to heck, and Jane finds herself the only suspect in a murder, and Luke and Matthew dig her and themselves even deeper by pulling off a rescue, and the future of the Time Police, and possibly the future of history and the future, hang in the balance.

It’s a lot of fun, with good characters, action, people having to actually work with people they fundamentally disagree with. Oh, and a perfectly pulled off silly line delivered to the readers absolutely perfectly.


I bought this book.

2021 Prix Actusf De L’uchronie Winners

The winners of the 2021 Prix Actusf de l’Uchronie were announced November 19.

It is a juried award for work in a specialized segment of sff field, described in the Wikipedia:

Uchronia refers to a hypothetical or fictional time-period of our world, in contrast to altogether fictional lands or worlds. A concept similar to alternate history but different in the manner that uchronic times are not easily defined.

Middle-Earth and the Hyborean Age are examples of uchronic settings.

French publisher ActuSF gives the award in three categories:

  • The Literary Prize, rewarding essays and novels.
  • The Prix Graphisme, rewarding comics, covers and other pictorial initiatives.
  • The Special Prize, rewarding an original uchronic work, be it a game, an exhibition, etc.

Eligible works were those published or released in French between September 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.


  • Aucune terre n’est promise by Lavie Tidhar. (Unholy Land) Translation by Julien Bétan (Mnémos Label Mu)


  • Les Chimères de Vénus T1 by Étienne Jung (Design), Alain Ayroles (Scénario) (Rue de Sèvres)


  • Les chroniques de St Mary by Jodi Taylor. (For the series The Chronicles of St. Mary’s) Translation by Cindy Colin Kapen (HC éditions)

The 2021 award jury members are: Étienne Barillier, Bertrand Campeis, Karine Gobled, Hermine Hémon, Jean Rebillat and Jean-Luc Rivera.

[Thanks to JJ for identifying the English titles of translated works.]

Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s

Jodi Taylor

Jodi Taylor

By Carl Slaughter: Imagine Doctor Who’s companions all got together and ran off with The Tardis and he never caught up with them. That’s something close to what you will find in The Chronicles of St. Mary’s series. Jodi Taylor self-published the first book, One Damned Thing After Another, and it was so popular it received 600 5-star reviews on Amazon. The seventh novel in the series, Lies, Damned Lies, and History, came out in May. Novel #8 is set for 2017.  There are also several short stories. For those in the UK, listen to a live podcast of Taylor at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford on October 20th and catch up with her at the Cardiff Comic Con October 29th and 30th.



“History is just one damned thing after another.” —Arnold Toynbee

Behind the seemingly innocuous facade of St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, a different kind of academic work is taking place. Just don’t call it “time travel”—these historians “investigate major historical events in contemporary time.” And they aren’t your harmless eccentrics either; a more accurate description, as they ricochet around history, might be unintentional disaster-magnets.

The first thing you learn on the job at St. Mary’s is that one wrong move and history will fight back—sometimes in particularly nasty ways. But, as new recruit Madeleine Maxwell soon discovers, it’s not only history they’re often fighting.

The Chronicles of St. Mary’s tells the chaotic adventures of Max and her compatriots—Director Bairstow, Chief Leon Farrell, Mr. Markham, and many more—as they travel through time, saving St. Mary’s (too often by the very seat of their pants) and thwarting time-travelling terrorists, all the while leaving plenty of time for tea.

From eleventh-century London to World War I, from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria, one thing is for sure: wherever the historians at St. Mary’s go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake.



In the sequel to Just One Damned Thing After Another, Max and company visit Victorian London in search of Jack the Ripper, witness the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral, and discover that dodos make a grockling noise when eating cucumber sandwiches. But they must also confront an enemy intent on destroying St. Mary’s—an enemy willing, if necessary, to destroy history itself to do it.



In A Second Chance, it seems nothing can go right for Max and her fellow historians. The team confronts a mirror-stealing Isaac Newton and later witnesses how the ancient and bizarre cheese-rolling ceremony in Gloucester can result in CBC: Concussion By Cheese.

Finally, Max makes her long-awaited jump to Bronze Age Troy, only for it to end in personal catastrophe. And just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse, it’s back to the Cretaceous Period to confront an old enemy who has nothing to lose.



In A Trail Through Time, Max and Leon are reunited and looking forward to a peaceful lifetime together. Sadly, that doesn’t even last until lunchtime.

The action races from seventeenth-century London to Ancient Egypt and from Pompeii to fourteenth-century Southwark as the historians are pursued up and down the timeline, playing a perilous game of hide-and-seek before seeking refuge at St. Mary’s—where new dangers await them. Overwhelmed, outnumbered, and with the building crashing down around them, will this spell the end of St. Mary’s?



Jodi Taylor’s best-selling series The Chronicles of St Mary is back with a bang…St Mary’s has been rebuilt and it’s business as usual for the History department. But first, there’s the little matter of a seventeenth-century ghost that only Mr Markham can see. Not to mention the minor inconvenience of being trapped in the Great Fire of London…and an unfortunately-timed comfort break at Thermopylae leaving the fate of the western world hanging in the balance..


jt-what-couldMax is back! New husband, new job, and a training regime that cannot fail – to go wrong! Take one interim Chief Training Officer, add five recruits, mix with Joan of Arc, a baby mammoth, a duplicitous Father of History, a bombed rat, Stone Age hunters, a couple of passing policemen who should have better things to do, and Dick the Turd. Stir well, bring to the boil – and wait for the bang!



“I’ve done some stupid things in my time. I’ve been reckless. I’ve broken a few rules. But never before have I ruined so many lives or left such a trail of destruction behind me.”

As Max would be the first to admit, she’s never been one for rules. But in Lies, Damned Lies, and History, she’s gone too far and now everyone is paying the price. Grounded until the end of time, how can she ever put things right?


You think you’re having a bad day? Max is trapped in the same deadly sandstorm that buried the fifty thousand-strong army of the Pharaoh Cambyses II, and she’s sharing the only available shelter for miles around with the murdering psychopath who recently kidnapped her and left her adrift in time.

She’s no safer at St. Mary’s. Tragedy strikes—not once, but several times—and with no Leon, no Markham, and no Peterson at her side, Max’s personal life slowly begins to unravel. From the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Hastings, and from Bayeux Cathedral to the Sack of Constantinople, Max must race through time to save the ones she loves.


  • “When A Child is Born”
  • “Roman Holiday”
  • “Christmas Present”
  • “Ships and Stings and Wedding Rings”
  • “The Very First Damned Thing”