Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 May 2018

Member Reviews

I’m a sucker for a good time travel story, and basically found this to be a fairly endearing time travel story with perhaps a little more heart to go along to it.  The way the structure works was fascinating and memorable, and the meat of the story itself was pretty solid on a whole. 

A fairly great read on a whole.
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‪Buying Time by E M Brown‬

We all have regrets and can recall the days we zigged rather than zagged – said x rather than y and our lives may be very different for good or for ill. In this novel we explore what would happen if you today could go back to certain days knowing what is to come.

Ed Richie is your standard mid-fifties hard-drinking self-loathing writer with a neat line in destroying his relationships (consecutively); after a particularly bad day he wakes up nine months earlier …but all memories intact. Can he change events?  Slowly Ed notices a pattern after a few days he can feel himself tugged further and further back. Why is this writer being sucked through time? What is the impact of his arrival in the timestream knowing what is to come?  Alongside this we see a dystopian future awaits the UK in 2030. The UK Conservative Govt fell into a dictatorship (as if ermmm) keen on censorship, arrests and violence. The increasingly right-wing US has started to outlaw homosexuality and people are fleeing to the newly independent Scotland. Into this journalist Ella Croft has decided its time to find out why Ed vanished.  She has a personal investment in this man she never really understood, and her enquiries bring out people very keen to find her for their own agendas.

There is a lot going on in this novel. The idea of a person falling into their own life is fascinating and how Ed reacts and slowly tests his powers of memory is well done.  It feels natural that you first doubt your sanity and then start to roll with it.  You may realise you’ve never been the hero you are and that certain stupid things you did have long-reaching consequences with friends and lovers. My only issue is that the focus is very much on Ed rather than the times we are now in. In contrast the future we see Ella in is a horrifyingly plausible future where isolationism and populism create nightmares for the UK and other democracies.  This a future where Trump, Brexit and economic collapses all make logical horrible steps to a more sinister country.  If Ed’s story is on the personal Ella’s storyis more on how did we get there.  It is quite an engrossing mystery as we see how these two are intertwined.

Annoyingly this also leads to the less satisfying part of the story. The focus on Ed is very much a stereotypical firebrand writer stuck in tv and radio. His drinking and constant chain of short-term relationships while is slowly explained often feels very flat. Often, we find his former flames all feel to have some fond feelings and there is a tendency to say he was flawed but not too bad and that doesn’t really come across in his behaviour and in fact just seems to pardon it. Ella’s story comes across as the more interesting as that nightmare world does feel a commentary on where we may be going however the ultimate way the two cross feels a little less than I expected to happen. Overall, I think this is a tale with some interesting ideas and a story and that makes it worth while but you may be shouting at the lead rather than encouraging him onwards
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Superb, a very enjoyable time travel story with a satisfying conclusion. Recommended to anyone who wishes they could go back and do things again.
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I love time travel, and this book was no exception. It was a little more character-driven than what I usually lean towards, but I found Ed Richie to be an interesting, albeit at times deeply flawed, character. It was a book that examined not only human nature, but juxtaposed the question of “what if we could change the past” against a hauntingly realistic dystopian near-future. Something that I’m sure was no mistake.

This character-driven science fiction novel was a wonderful foray into examining the relationship between knowledge and choice, and what could happen if given the opportunity to “buy back time”. With brilliantly flawed characters and compellingly realistic situations, this book was a real page turner, and left me completely attached to the characters and cheering for them. 

Overall, all I can say is that I found this to be an intelligently put together book that tugged at my heart-strings in unexpected ways, and left me thinking about my own mistakes. I highly recommend this book.
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Am not sure why, but from the synopsis I was expecting more of a sci-fi thriller.  It's not.  The story isn't about the science of time travel or the futuristic dystopian political agendas.  It is about character development and how specific moments in our past shape who we are.  I loved the bromance between Ed and Digger.  After finishing it made me want to call up a few comrades and meet up for a pint.

While I did enjoy the world building (wow... Brexit has a lot to answer for but good to see that Scotland maintained their collective good sense), the dystopian futuristic setting, the subterfuge and the secret spy plots were not particularly riveting and in the end were completely unnecessary.  

Recommended for rainy day reading.
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A promising premise, but I abandoned this title about a third of the way in. An unlikeable protagonist isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but this guy was such a sleaze and I didn’t care at all about his journey. Sorry Netgalley.
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Dystopian? Check

Time travel? Check

Characters I can get emotionally invested in? Check want more detail than that, huh? OK, the best way I can think to summarise this book is if you had put 1984 in the blender with The Time Traveller's Wife, added a pinch of One Day and then blitzed it all together into some wonderful creation. If that metaphor makes this sound like a mess than I apologise, because it worked really well!

If you, like me, feel increasingly despairing about the current political situation in the world - then be warned, this won't make you feel any better! The author imagines a near future where in the year 2030 the current feeling of isolationism has given rise to an atmosphere of racism and homophobia. Most notably it focuses on LGBT rights - to the extent that in this imagined future, the equal marriage rights bill has been repealed in some countries. This may seem extreme and a tad depressing and yet it was somehow scarily believable!

To start with I really wasn't keen on the main character, Ed Richie; he seemed self absorbed, uninteresting and ultimately just a bit pathetic. But stick with him, because his personality really develops and we learn more of his history that explains the most frustrating parts of his character. He really develops through the book as well.

The story alternates between his time traveling jaunts and Ella's story -set in 2030, trying to research what happened to Richie and why he disappeared. I loved how carefully the plot was thought out and how it managed to come full circle at the end. It was a very satisfying read that didn't leave anything hanging, or any frustrating unanswered questions. And alongside all the sci-fi, thriller themes, was actually the most emotional and touching of story-lines.
It really played with that age old question of, "If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, and do things differently,...... would you?" There was one part in particular that had me quite tearful, which was entirely unexpected from a book like this and that is credit to how much I was vested in these characters by the end.

 Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for this preview copy in return for an honest review.
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Buying Time by E.M. Brown is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early May.

TV writer/novelist Ed unexpectedly falls unconscious after a typical night at the pub, meanwhile Ella from 14 years forward in a diverse, travel-happy future seeks to research a now-famous Ed who has disappeared quite mysteriously. Later, Ed figures out that he's somehow traveling through time before winding down to an easy-to-piece-together conclusion.
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I’d like to give the first half of the book 3 stars and the latter half 3.5. It was slow-going and I wasn’t too invested in the characters until the midway point. From there onwards, I found myself getting attached and wanting to know how it all panned out. Only after I’ve finished the book did I appreciate the characters being flawed even though I did not agree with their choices at times. Lots of politics, love-affairs and self-discoveries(it’s up to you if you prefer that or not, personally I didn’t like Ed’s promiscuous love-life and didn’t give a fig on the politics).  I loved the bromance between Ed and Digsby though, what a cherishable friendship! And the characterization was impressive to say the least.

The underlying topic here is that ‘time is paramount’. Quoted in this book from An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde: ‘Even you are not rich enough, Sir Robert, to buy back your past. No man is.’

However, there was one line that I took offense to, which was: ‘Of course, there’s all those blighted Islamic holes, but there the drink doesn’t flow…’ Here, Islamic countries/communities have been given a sweeping description as ‘blighted holes’. I’d like the author to explain why he did this.  

There’s an undercurrent of regret and melancholy in Buying Time. Towards the end there was one scene which almost brought tears to my eyes. If asked to describe the book in one word, I’d choose ‘profound’.
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Buying Time is Eric Brown’s latest novel, though this time published under the name of E.M. Brown. Known for his character-focused science fiction stories, Brown has explored many themes during his years as a writer, yet the concept time-travel is one that, I believe, he has not tackled until now. It’s an interesting topic that can be approached in many ways, from big-budget ideas down to very personal stories. As hoped and expected, Brown is firmly in the latter territory here, using his strengths to tell a fascinating story.

Ed Richie lives in the small town of Harrowby Bridge in Yorkshire, spending his time writing scripts for TV shows and radio plays. While not alone, he shares his life with a stream of women with whom, one at a time, he has an inevitably short relationship before they leave him. His oldest friend, Digby Lincoln – Diggers – is also a writer, more successful than Richie, and living not too far from him. They meet regularly to catch up with a few pints in the local pub, which almost always ends up being a good old drinking session. It’s after one of these heavy sessions the night Richie’s latest lady leaves that he collapses, waking up not the following morning, but almost a year earlier in 2016…

Meanwhile in 2030 Ella Shaw is a writer for Scot Free Media in a world vastly different, though not unimaginable, from our own. While reporting and writing on the many different atrocities taking place in the world, she is also fascinated by Ed Richie’s disappearance in 2025, vanishing without a trace. With her own reasons for chasing down a story, she embarks on a fact-finding mission into Richie’s past to see if she can discover just what, exactly, happened to him.

Buying Time is the kind of novel that can really pull you into its narrative. While starting relatively innocuously with a broken relationship, followed by a nice ‘heavy night’ at the pub, it’s a couple of chapters in that it gets very interesting, and opening its door to the main time travel possibilities it promises. For me it’s these early chapters – alternating between Ed Richie as his consciousness gradually moves back through time, and Ella Shaw as she goes about her business in a troubled and oppressive world – that really work for me. In short, it’s the characters that Brown creates to bring his story to life that are the reason the story works as well as it does.

While most of Buying Time is focused on Richie’s life, it’s the aspects of Ella’s world that are perhaps most fascinating. Set in a Britain that has left the EU and the rise of its racist and homophobic government, England is no longer a safe and pleasant place to live. With Scotland and Wales having broken away from England and gained independence, it is harrowing to see such a future. America are perhaps worse than England, now outlawing homosexuality which sees a huge rise in refugees leaving the country. It’s no surprise to see such fictional events given today’s political climate, and while it could be argued that the world presented here is an extreme take on events, they still feel very real, and all too plausible.

Ultimately, Buying Time is a tremendous success. Brown creates compelling characters and tells their story in ways that make them relatable, a true hallmark and strength to his fiction. I was left almost exhausted come the end, having to take some time to really appreciate what he’s done here. Buying Time is not an action packed sci-fi novel, but a more thoughtful character focused affair that is a refreshing take on a well-worn genre trope, a page turner, and a highly enjoyable novel. This is Eric Brown at his best. Very much recommended.
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I’m a bit torn about my thoughts on this book. The concept was interesting, and I wanted to keep reading to understand the mystery of Ed’s time travel. But I could not connect to the characters. There was background given to explain why they were as they were, but they were still mainly unlikeable to me. And in the end the time travel explanation felt unfinished. But it was thought provoking, so I’ll go with 3 stars.
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Buying Time is a story about Writing Career “Scripts & Novels”, Friendship, Society, Politics..
And of course about Time…

What if you jump back in time to the younger version of yourself...with the conscious of your present one..
Interesting & unlimited possibilities..
A wish as old as Time...

Okay, But What if you just kept jumping in time, every-single-day to even a younger one..
That's the “Paradox” here, in “Buying Time”..

*** The Story ***
(( 2017 ))
Ed Richi is a successful TV shows scriptwriter.. but in his mid-fifties he feel unsatisfied with his career of writing ‘insignificant’ scripts that never last in memories… always feeling forced to change and rewrite for the sake of Tyrant Directors, Needy Actresses, and greedy Producers...and of course, Censorship..

Also he feel unsatisfied with his personal life, his long chain of relations with women that never last more than 3 years tops.
His only good friend also -a screenwriter as well- regrets not publishing a novel long ago and just stuck in the machine of writing insignificant scripts.

But suddenly, SNAP, Ed wakes up back a year in time, to 2016..
SNAP, the morning after, he's back to 2013…
And before he know it, the next day he's in 2008…. And Stranger Things awaits him..

(( 2030 ))
In near future kinda-Realistic Dystopia, Ella Show is a journalist in Scotland, the last heaven for freedom after the fascists “The Right-Wing” takes over US, England and many other major countries..
She set herself to a task of investigating the strange case of Ed Richi… who disappeared into thin air 5 years ago..

Interviewing some of his women and his best Friend.. not knowing she may end with a mind-blowing story.

The Verdict on the Plot

“The first act drags, it lacks dramatic tension. The second act is a little better, but needs cutting, and the third act…”

Well, funny that was written near the ending of the novel, criticising Ed’s play.
If I can sum the story experience… that’d be it…
BUT, the plot itself is really good… the whole mysterious experience provided dramatic tension enough for me to continue..

Just the first half as whole needed a bit cutting.. First couple of ‘Throwbacks’ in time almost felt similar and bit draggy… I was like, will it be all about his Girlfriends? like “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”..
I mean if I'm not a “Time Travel Theories” sucker I'd just wouldn't continue…. Also if I'm not even more interested in the whole “Writing Career and Screenwriters life” it'd have been a boring story for me.

But then with The Second half, the changes in Ed character, embracing this mysterious phenomenon, it gets much better, not to mention the “twist” in the middle of the story.. then the 5th,6th and 7th Throwbacks, was really full of twists, Science Fiction theories and even action packed though not much necessary.. but it was just fun.

The Writing Style
Interesting structure ; One Chapter of Richi’s Time Travels / One Chapter of the Future Ella’s investigations, That was really nice way to keep the tension of the story..
And a page of Ed's dairies after every chapter also a good touch... most of it connects with eachother in a way... just I felt it can use some more work to be a real perfection.

PS: The Globe… it appeared in the early story in the pub..then in the middle at Ed’s 90s room.. also the Cover of the novel itself… but with no more significant appearance by the end...just thought it better made one.

The Politics
We're heading into a deep shit…
Well, I'm glad that the author mentioned that Ed’s first read was Orwell’s 1984… cause here he tried to get the atmosphere of it, with also a bit of Barve New World, to show “where we're heading to” with the aid of the current political shit, from Trump to UK getting like everything separating from inside and outside.

Also the reflections at the political parts from the different Ed’s Throwbacks in time was very fresh reminder.. Like the Bush era, 9/11 aftermath, etc.
This parts could have been better if get more in depth rather than the “not much needed” linger in the fictional futuristic’s policies.

The Science
“Ground-breaking hard SF in that it combined cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute cosmological speculation with penetrating character insight.”

That's how a character described his SF novel… well, may be the author here tried to do so as well with the explanation of the plot by the ending..
It was good theory..and for a while I thought it may be like Vanilla Sky-one of my very favourite underrated movies- but here it even tried much harder in making the Scientific part and the Time Travel theory more entertaining..
Again quoting from the novel
“It’s a brilliant conceit – if not wholly original”


*** The Characters ****
As I said, It's a story of Friendship..
What connects Ed with his Friend, Digby, was may be the best thing about the characters in the novel.

Ed may seems shallow… but it's clearly from early on that it's authorial intention, (The Novel really helped me writing this review with its Criticism References)
So by the mid. of the novel you may start liking Ed's character...but you'll fall in love with his best friend's Digby more when his character get more background.

On the other side, Ella show character was just okay...not with that strong impact.. even her relationship with her ex-girlfriend didn't felt significant to me much.

After all , since it's a story of Writers and authors, Criticism was a very important “Character” here. It sure has a very important role..

Well, hope the writer accept this much of criticism… may I remind with this quote again from the novel ;
“That an indication of the maturity of a writer was his ability to accept criticism.”

*** Finally ***
I guess my rate here 3.5 ☆☆☆☆
I really enjoyed it.. it's a very good read if you're into Writing Careers + Time Travel…
And it's even a better one if you're into UK political state...

Mohammed Arabey
From 4 May 2018
To 8 May 2018

Special Thanks for Rebellion Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC.
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I kept picking this up to read and would quickly get frustrated by the plot.  The premise of this book was interesting, but in the end it just wasn’t for me so I ended up not finishing.
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Ed Richi is a successful TV show scriptwriter. He's feeling....beat down by directors, producers and actors who demand changes to his words... He's lonely after meaningless relationships that never pan out...

Ed goes to bed and...wakes up 9 months in the past - and then the next night - he's 3 years in the past - and so on and so on.

CUT TO - the year 2030 - Ella Show is an investigative journalist researching the disappearance of Ed Richi....and what she finds is not a simple story...

This is an amazing, mind blowing, exciting story that rockets through time and space.
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"No man is Rich Enough to Buy Back His Time".  That said, I certainly do not regret time spent reading this book! In Brown's spin on time travel, he has created a scenario that we have all dreamed  of at some point...."if I had only known then what I know now".

Ed is a well known writer who has had a long string of short lived romances.  None ended well.  One day he simply disappears. Ella is a journalist who many years later, investigates his disappearance. The time line for this book is from the 80's to 2030. 

While Ella is interviewing people and looking for clues, Richie is randomly jumping back in time.  Each time he questions whether he is going insane or whether this is really happening; and if it is, when will it end?

A good read for people who enjoy time travel fiction.
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Note: I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

I have always been a sucker for time-travel novels. I guess it’s my love for history, and my closet-wish to observe and understand history as it happened. So when E. M. Brown’s novel Buying Time came up on NetGalley I couldn’t resist.

Buying Time is about Ed Richie, a screenwriter in the UK. He is a womanizer, and can’t even remember all the women who have lived with him these past decades. His latest girlfriend walks out after another big fight and he goes to the pub with his friend, a more successful screenwriter, Digby. When he wakes up the next day things are strange. Stranger than if he’d had a normal hangover. The weather is different. His clothes are not on the floor. And some things in his house have changed. After some confusion he finally figures out he’s jumped a couple of years back in time. He explains this to Digby (a younger Digby), but soon “jumps” again, even further back in time.

In the 2030’s, journalist Ella Croft is taking a month off to work on the biography of screenwriter turned novelist Ed Richie, who disappeared without a trace in 2025. For this biography she has to travel to England (from independent Scotland), a country dangerous for her now that LGBTQ people are openly prosecuted. Through her research she uncovers what happened to Ed Richie, which is something that has an impact on her future and past too.

This book proved to me that my love for time travel stories isn’t always a good thing. I wanted so much more from this story than what I got.

My main issues are twofold. Firstly I have issues with the time travel mechanism of Ed Richie appearing in his own body/mind a couple of years before the now. It starts out as a good concept, and even the methodology behind it I can get into, but in the end Brown doesn’t really carry it forward. It’s like he lost interest (or never had it in the first place) in the time travel aspect, and turned to the emotional aspect of the story.

I also did not like Brown’s description of the future in the parts about Ella. Without giving too much away, Brown is no fan of Trump and UK First, and takes the current political and social climate in mainly the US, UK and Scotland to the extreme. I’m not saying one shouldn’t write about this, or even that this conclusion is so unrealistic to be laughable, but it did not fit in this story. We have a story about time travel, about love, about fixing past mistakes, and as a misplaced bonus we get a dystopian future that really does not influence the story at all. Nothing that happens in this dystopia affects the main characters, nor changes what happens in the story.

What’s left is a story about what you would do if you have a chance to do parts of your life over, and how much past actions and associated guilt will affect your future. Nice, but I expected something more. It therefore gets three out of five stars.
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So here I was thinking how nice it is to discover a new science fiction author I like and turns out not, so new, I’ve read Binary System by him before, well by Eric Brown. This is his more character driven work, hence the initials. But new author or otherwise, what a great book. And yes, it is very much a character driven story. The main one of which is an aging tv writer/author who mysteriously disappears and a journalist with a connection to his past who tries to find him. So that’s the mystery aspect. But this is, of course, a science fiction novel and as such the bulk of the story is set in the terrifyingly plausible near future where politics have taken a dark turn for nationalism, neofascist policies, disappearing civil liberties, rampant conservatism and xenophobia…essentially the way it’s going now with the volume turned up for dramatic effect. US being one of the main offenders, but also England, no longer united. Scotland (finally ceding) becomes the liberal safety zone. Again, all very logical. In this book the  future is too near, 2030 at the latest, to stun the readers with out of this world technology, it relies on dystopian sociopolitical inventiveness (and how one wishes it was entire an invention) instead and as such is very relevant and compelling of a read. But if you don’t read it for politics, read it for the general plot, it’s absolutely fascinating. The protagonist starts skipping backwards in time to salient moments in his life and it’s a real trip in every meaning of the world, particularly the explanation, which works exceptionally well and comes as something of an ending twist. So it’s a time travel story and a pleasantly reasonable/plausibleish one at that. And the astonishing thing is that, despite the bleakness of its setting, it’s actually a strangely optimistic story, it allows for a possibility of changing one’s past, changing one’s life, of second chances and forgiveness. I loved this one, wanted to read it in one sitting (didn’t manage), wanted to see what’s next, thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, all the things one wishes for in a book. Now if only technology would reach up and meet the fiction and real world do the opposite and veer away from its dystopian course. Until then, there’s Buying Time. Awesome book. Enthusiastically recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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The synopsis reminded me of 'UnHappenings' by Edward Aubry, which I loved.  It was incredibly well-narrated and full of the 'science' type of sci-fi time travel, yet never boring or too geeky.  Both novels had their main character set to go back into their own timeline, and I was very excited to try 'Buying Time.'  Unfortunately, the narrating was very difficult to grow accustomed to and the characters un-sympathetic.  Could not finish.
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DNF so I will not be rating or reviewing. Thank you for the opportunity to read this title.
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Ed Richie is a hack writer, who makes a good living writing for tv shows that he loathes. He drinks too much beer. He has one friend, Digby, who is more successful, and a bit nicer. They both dream of being taken seriously as writers.
 He has a routine with women. Invariably, they are tall, willowy and blonde. They meet, he is charming, the sex is great, she moves in. He withdraws, belittles her, and she moves out. Ed isn't a particularly nice guy. It would have been easier to root for Ed had he been a better man. 
In Buying Time, we follow Ed, and we also follow Ella in 2030. Ella is writing a book on Ed, who wrote eight prophetic novels before disappearing in 2025. Ella and Ed have a connection in the distant past that made them what they are. Ella also has a problem with love. Most of all, she wants to find what happened to Ed.
 The future is a pretty bleak place. The book makes its' own gloomy predictions. Following the populist wave that brought Brexit and Donald Trump, fascism has risen again, and minorities are unwelcome in England and the United States.
Following the demise of his latest relationship, Ed gets drunk at the pub, and wakes up the previous year in a younger version of his body. Before he can work out what is going on, it happens again. What's it all about, and why is it happening? It makes you ask yourself what you would do if you could learn from your own mistakes. 
Buying Time is an enjoyable read. I was a little sad that (arguably) the nicest character in the book, an artist, was sacrificed to the plot.
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