Monthly Archives: February 2011

Trapped In Time [Bernal C. Payne, Jr., 1984]

“How does that grab you, Willy William?” Dad chuckled. “I wouldn’t mind having your bird roosting in front of my house. Anyway, my mom could use the eggs!”

Wanna hear a clean joke?


Upon reading of a rare condition in World Science magazine, a braindead brother-sister duo find they are among the chosen few (“one in a hundred-million” according to the statisticians at World Science headquarters) who can stare deeply into a photograph and transport themselves to that very place in time.

The process is a cinch: (1) stare into a photograph; (2) make a “superwish”; (3) put yourself into “a kind of trance”; (4) believe—yes, truly believe—in your heart of hearts (etc) that you will be transported. And poof! Off you go.

Gifted with the chance to visit any locale in the photographed universe, these teens forgo inserting themselves in ectoplasm photographs, erotic daguerreotypes, trippy photomontages, or any of the great moments in history ever to be captured on film. Instead, they lapse into what I can only deem totally-gross-boring-nerdom. These awful squares have an untoward obsession with their parents’ early courtship, and they want to be voyeurs on “the most important day of [their future] lives”—the day the first spark flew. This little ember would burn and burn until their parents—finally bonded and ready to mate—would rub their parts together and create each of our protagonists in succession. Aw.

These teens from 1983 find themselves way back in 1955, and then we too are “trapped in time”—stuck in a bland nostalgia-fest for the bygone days of Wally and The Beave. Oddly, neither sib flubs up their slang or takes flak for their futuristic sneakers.

As in the eerily similar (but superior!) Back to the Future (conspiracy, anyone?), the protagonists accidentally prevent their parents’ union on that day-of-days, setting off a chain reaction that (gasp!) could prevent their own births. Gone is their legacy of nuclear family fun days: wood-paneled station wagons, sun-dappled tandem-bike rides, popsicles torn at the seam. We readers should be so lucky! Instead, they are caught in “a time zone no one has ever experienced. A fourth dimension. A sort of limbo between time and space.” That is, until they are (spoiler alert!) freed by an enterprising Catholic priest. No Joke.

While this book was not my personal brand of heroin, I am not too good for a little scientific experiment. Here I am staring intently into a photo of my parents on their wedding day. Did I find myself in the wilds of ‘79? As is oft the case with nonbelievers: no dice.

P.S. Did you ever imagine that your future children might be time travelers who are peeping through your blind slats right now? Bestseller Rank as of 2.7.2012 at 11:38 p.m.
(The bestseller ranking is based on sales and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item ever sold on
Trapped in Time #3,484,941


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